Salmonella outbreaks 2024: Symptoms to watch after CDC warns of infections linked to backyard poultry in 29 states

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced investigations on Thursday into salmonella outbreaks spanning several states, all tied to interactions with backyard poultry. 

According to the CDC, 109 individuals across 29 states have contracted salmonella following contact with backyard poultry, including chickens and ducks. The states most heavily impacted by these outbreaks are Missouri, Texas, and Oklahoma.

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While no deaths have been reported, the CDC revealed that 33 people have required hospitalization due to the illness. Notably, children under the age of 5 make up 43% of those infected, as stated by the CDC.

Additionally, the CDC highlighted that the actual number of cases may exceed the reported count, as many individuals recover without seeking medical attention and therefore remain untested for the infection.

How to avoid a salmonella infection

The CDC has issued the following advice to poultry owners, as well as tips for sellers of backyard poultry on its website. 

  • Wash your hands immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
  • Supervise kids around flocks. Young children are more likely to become very ill from salmonella.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
  • Handle eggs safely.
  • Call you healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing any severe symptoms of salmonella.

Symptoms of salmonella to watch for

Salmonella infection, also referred to as salmonellosis, is a prevalent bacterial illness that impacts the digestive system. These bacteria commonly inhabit the intestines of both animals and humans and are typically transmitted through consumption of contaminated food or water.

While some individuals may exhibit no symptoms, the majority experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 8 to 72 hours after exposure, with young children being particularly vulnerable to more severe cases that may require medical intervention. 

Can we blame this on spring chickens?

According to Food Safety News, such outbreaks are common annually, coinciding with the increase in baby poultry purchases.

The CDC closed an investigation into another salmonella outbreak last October, which affected 48 states and Puerto Rico and during which 1,072 illnesses and 247 hospitalizations were reported. In 2022, contact with backyard poultry resulted in illness for at least 1,230 individuals. 

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