August 12, 2014
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Division of Public Health Services alerts residents to the risks of Salmonella Enteritidis infection associated with exposure to chicks and other live poultry. As of August 6, 2014, at least 11 individuals in the State have been infected with Salmonella shortly after exposure to chicks or chickens. The majority of cases were raising chicks inside their home or backyard for meat or eggs. The patients became ill between March 29 and July 4, with the majority of cases occurring in late April and early May. Patients range in age from 0 to 69, two were hospitalized, and all have fully recovered.
All cases reported purchasing baby chicks from different local farm supply stores that are all supplied by Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio. This hatchery has been implicated in an ongoing multistate outbreak of Salmonella as well as outbreaks in 2011 and 2012. For more information on the multistate outbreak investigation go to http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-05-14/index.html.
"While this cluster of cases linked to a problem at a particular hatchery is concerning," said Dr. José Montero, Director of Public Health at DHHS, "unfortunately Salmonella is always a risk with poultry. That is why we want to emphasize that people follow appropriate and consistent hygiene recommendations every time they come in contact with live poultry, whether or not it is chicks or adults, chickens or other types of poultry."
Poultry frequently carry bacteria, including Salmonella, which can cause illness in humans. Chickens and other poultry infected with Salmonella usually do not appear sick. Typical symptoms of Salmonella infection are nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. These symptoms generally develop within one to three days of exposure and may last for up to a week. While anyone can become ill from exposure to these germs, the risk of infection is especially high for children, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems. These groups of people are also at risk for more severe infections.
Salmonella lives in the intestines of infected chickens and can be shed in the droppings. Baby chicks may be especially prone to shed these germs and cause human illness due to the stress of shipping and adapting to many new locations before they reach a permanent home. Once shed, bacteria can spread across the chicken’s body as the bird cleans itself and throughout the environment as the chicken walks around. Therefore, it is especially important to carefully wash your hands with soap and water after handling poultry or anything that has come into contact with them. If you ingest Salmonella, you may become ill. People accidentally ingest Salmonella in many ways, including eating after handling chickens or by touching their hand to their mouth while working with the birds without washing their hands thoroughly first. If handled properly, poultry should not pose a Salmonella risk to people.
For more information on this national outbreak, visit http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-05-14/advice-consumers.html.