Perspective from Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., MD
July 31, 2019
2 min read

Kids largely affected in backyard poultry Salmonella outbreak

Perspective from Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., MD
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Photo of Megin Nichols
Megin Nichols

The CDC has reported that 768 people have been infected with Salmonella through contact with backyard poultry in 48 states. Children aged younger than 5 years account for almost one-quarter of all cases.

“Young children are at increased risk for Salmonella illness because their immune systems are still developing,” Megin Nichols, DVM, MPH, Diplomate ACVPM, an epidemiologist in the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch of the CDC, told Infectious Diseases in Children. “They are also more likely to put their fingers or other items that have come into contact with germs into their mouths.”

Of the reported cases, 122 required hospitalization, and two deaths have occurred. Most people infected during the outbreak (75%) have reported contact with chicks or ducklings obtained from agricultural stores, websites and hatcheries.

According to the CDC, illnesses began between Jan. 1 and July 6. During this time, illnesses have been reported among patients aged younger than 1 year to 99 years.

Photo of chickens in a yard 
Source: Adobe Stock

Antimicrobial resistance to several antibiotics, including amoxicillin-clavulanic acid, ampicillin, cefoxitin, ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, ciprofloxacin, fosfomycin, gentamicin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, streptomycin, sulfisoxazole, tetracycline and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, has been identified in 117 isolates collected from patients.

“Families with young children should not keep poultry as pets, and poultry should not be allowed in schools or child care facilities with young children,” Nichols said.

The CDC suggested that hand-washing with soap and water should take place immediately after contact with poultry or the environment where they live and roam. Children’s hand-washing practices should be observed by parents, and hand sanitizer should be used when soap and water are not available. Furthermore, the agency recommended that children aged younger than 5 years should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry, including kissing or snuggling with the animals.

Nichols also suggested that pediatricians ask about animal contact while taking a patient’s medical history. – by Katherine Bortz


CDC. Investigation notice: Salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry. Accessed July 29, 2019.