Perspective

Kids largely affected in backyard poultry Salmonella outbreak

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

Reference:

CDC. Investigation notice: Salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-05-19/index.html. Accessed July 29, 2019.

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

Reference:

CDC. Investigation notice: Salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry. https://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/backyardpoultry-05-19/index.html. Accessed July 29, 2019.

    Perspective
    Joseph A. Bocchini Jr.

    Joseph A. Bocchini Jr.

    In this 7-month investigation of multiple outbreaks of Salmonella infections associated with backyard poultry, 11 Salmonella serotypes have been recognized so far, with five serotypes added since mid-June. These outbreaks have affected people in 48 states, and 24% of the 768 people so far identified are children aged younger than 5 years. Infection of chicks and ducklings at hatcheries is suspected to be the source of each of these Salmonella serotypes.

    These outbreaks remind us of how common Salmonella carriage is in healthy-appearing poultry and how easy it is for Salmonella to be transmitted to humans from backyard poultry.  

    Backyard poultry flocks have become more common in recent years and, as a result, are now an notable source of Salmonella infection for families who keep them. Families need to be aware that purchased chicks and ducks are often colonized with Salmonella at hatcheries and that appropriate precautions should always be taken to reduce the likelihood of transmission through direct contact with poultry or with their environment.

    The CDC has published on its website clear steps all families need to take to reduce the risk of transmission of Salmonella and other poultry-related infections. Educational materials have also been prepared by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Agriculture for hatcheries and suppliers to use to accompany purchased poultry.

    Children aged younger than 5 years and adults aged older than 65 years, pregnant women and people with a compromised immune system are at increased risk for complications of Salmonella infection. In general, they should not handle poultry. Young children should be supervised by adults when in contact with poultry to ensure compliance with recommendations to limit transmission, such as monitoring hand-washing.

    • Joseph A. Bocchini Jr., MD
    • Infectious Diseases in Children Editorial Board member
      Professor of pediatrics
      Louisiana State University Health Center – Shreveport

    Disclosures: Bocchini reports no relevant financial disclosures.