My previous post was about Salmonella in peanut butter, a food item of significance to roughly 300 million Americans in 2020 alone. According to the USDA, peanut consumption reached an all-time high of 7.9 pounds per capita in 2021. Both these numbers are only expected to climb even higher.
My current post is about Salmonella outbreaks linked to backyard poultry.
The young family living next door to us has a chicken coop. One of my oldest friends living in Atlanta, GA also has her own backyard poultry with hens that lay eggs and a rooster that tries to keep my friend away from all the hens. Our dear friends, Linda and Andy, have chickens on their animal farm in Sevierville, TN.
These three households count among the approximately 10 million American households who own their own chickens.
Although a main reason to own your own chicken coops is often to have fresh eggs, it is also common for people to treat these birds as pets. Calling them such names as Clucky, Cluck Vader, Jaba the Hen or even Frittata, people hug their chickens, cuddle them, and often kiss them. This is not a good idea.
It is common for backyard poultry like chickens and ducks to carry Salmonella and other bacteria that can harm humans.
- These bacteria live naturally in the guts of these birds and are passed on to other birds and into their environment via their droppings.
- This is true even for poultry that are fed only organic grub.
So, what’s the big deal if we swallow some of these Salmonella bacteria?
- For many of us, there is no problem at all.
- Our immune systems deal with these bacteria and we show no symptoms at all.
However, there are some who may be at high risk of salmonellosis symptoms severe enough to need hospitalization or even cause death. These include
- children younger than 5 years
- adults 65 years and older
- immunocompromised individuals of any age
SYMPTOMS AND SEVERITY:
- Most people infected with Salmonella will have diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
- These symptoms usually begin 6 hours to 6 days from Salmonella bacteria entering the body.
- Most people recover in 4 to 7 days, even without treatment.
SEVERE SYMPTOMS TO LOOK OUT FOR include:
- diarrhea and fever higher than 102°F
- diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
- blood in diarrhea
- vomiting anything the person is trying to consume
- dehydration such that
- the person is not urinating much
- has dry mouth and throat
- feels dizzy when standing up
Seek medical attention right away if you experience any of the above severe symptoms.
Does this mean you should not have backyard poultry?
- No, all it means is you have to make sure to be aware and put some prevention measures in place.
- Dogs and cats can spread germs to their owners too, and yet, we have about 80 million American households with dogs and/or cats.
Pets are good for us humans for multiple reasons.
- And we are certainly savvy enough to have pets, benefit from pet ownership, AND engage in simple and basic prevention mechanisms which will help prevent us getting sick from our pets.
For those of you who own backyard flocks, it is important to:
- WASH YOUR HANDS after you touch
- backyard poultry
- their eggs
- or the environment where they live and roam around
- kiss or snuggle your backyard poultry
- eat or drink around them
- let children younger than 5 years touch them
- leave young children unsupervised around them
- use cracked eggs
- wash eggs because colder water can pull germs into the eggs
- eat undercooked eggs
- keep backyard poultry outside the house
- keep their supplies outside the house
- clean their supplies outside the house
- supervise young children around them
- make sure young children wash their hands after being around these poultry
- collect eggs often
- rub off dirt on eggs with a brush, cloth, or fine sandpaper
- put eggs in the fridge to keep them fresh
- cook eggs well (160F is needed to kill all germs)
So far, in this current Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry, there have been 219 people who fell ill, of whom 27 have been hospitalized due to severe symptoms.
- The outbreak has been seen in 38 states and one person has actually died.
- The CDC investigation is still ongoing.
Check below for some relevant links: