WYOMING –For many, spring means baby chicks and poultry purchases. As young children especially start handling arriving flocks, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is reminding people baby birds can carry harmful germs even if they appear healthy and clean.
Salmonella is one bacteria found in animals that can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and other severe symptoms in humans. Baby poultry are a common source of the germ. Young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system are at an increased risk of developing severe symptoms from Salmonella.
“Because baby birds are soft and cute, many people want to touch, hold or even snuggle them but this behavior can be risky because the birds can have germs on their body and in their droppings,” said Tiffany Greenlee, surveillance epidemiologist with WDH.
Greenlee noted Wyoming regularly has cases of Salmonellosis in humans from contact with live poultry, especially in springtime.
“Unfortunately, last year Wyoming had a significant increase in the number of people infected with Salmonella who were part of larger, multistate outbreaks involving contact with baby chicks,” Greenlee said. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2017 set a record for the highest number of illness related to baby poultry. “The germs we’re concerned with are also found where birds live such as in bird cages and coops. If someone puts their hands in or near their mouth after handling birds or touching the bird environment, they can become infected.”
Tips for handling live birds include:
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