CDC: Salmonella outbreak tied to live poultry
May 31st, 2012
05:18 PM ET

CDC: Salmonella outbreak tied to live poultry

You've probably heard a lot about salmonella in reference to food poisoning, but the latest outbreak isn't about eating cooked animals - it's about touching live ones.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that 93 people in a total of 23 states have been infected with strains of salmonella: specifically, strains known as Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille.  Of those affected, 18 patients have been hospitalized and one death may be related to the outbreak under investigation too.

A large portion - 37% - of the those infected are 10 years old or younger, according to the CDC.

Salmonella infection causes bad diarrhea generally. But in some people - especially young children, elderly persons or those who have weakened immune systems - can have more serious symptoms and even die.

The origin of this outbreak appears to be chicks and ducklings that came from a mail-order hatchery in Ohio, public health officials have determined.  The hatchery was also implicated in a 2011 outbreak of salmonella infections.  This month, veterinarians inspected the hatchery and made recommendations to improve conditions.

Many of the people who got sick in this outbreak were buying poultry for backyard flocks, for eggs and meat, said Dr. Ian Williams, Chief of the Outbreak Response and Prevention Branch at the CDC.  Chicken and ducks can appear perfectly healthy but still shed salmonella in their droppings.

"If you don't wash your hands carefully after you're handling your chickens and cleaning up after them, you can bring salmonella into the house and contaminate the foods you eat," Williams said.

In the last couple of years, there has been increasing interest in people keeping poultry in their backyard, a trend that may contribute to this outbreak, Williams said.  There is also better detection of salmonella throughout the United States through a surveillance network called PulseNet.

The CDC has several tips for keeping safe around live poultry: Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after you touch these animals, and don't let children under 5 handle them.  That's because they may snuggle with the chicks or kiss them, which can transmit bacteria, says Williams. The CDC also discourages giving small chicks as presents to children.  The agency also recommends against keeping live poultry inside your house.  It's best for everyone if the birds live outside.

soundoff (28 Responses)
  1. slow turtle

    Eat mor chikin !

    May 31, 2012 at 19:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Doc

    Ahhhh! Why is it so damn hard for you media types to get scientific names right, CNN? I mean, cripes, this is a MEDICAL blog so you all of all people should know what the heck you are doing here. The genus name is first and is capitalized and the species name follows but is NOT capitalized and then the whole thing is ITALICIZED. Please, can you do this right?

    May 31, 2012 at 19:55 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ST


      May 31, 2012 at 20:36 | Report abuse |
    • IggyDad

      You are mostly wrong. Salmonella is in fact the genus name, but Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille, for example. refer to serotypes, not separate species. All are serotypes of the salmonella species that typically affects humans: Salmonells enterica (and yes, that should be italicized, but the serotypes are not usually italicized, but they are, unlike species names, capitalized). Perhaps Ms. Landau got her information from CDC, as the naming conventions are correct.

      May 31, 2012 at 20:45 | Report abuse |
    • john i.

      Is that cob in there tight

      May 31, 2012 at 21:45 | Report abuse |
  3. Doc

    Heck, I know adults who snuggle & kiss their chickens – they are like their pets. So, it's not just children under 5...

    May 31, 2012 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. tct

    Do I have to stop eating live chickens?

    May 31, 2012 at 19:57 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Leeser

      LOL tct and I'm guessing the family bed is out too?

      June 1, 2012 at 17:05 | Report abuse |
    • Peanut M&M

      Just take bath salts first and you won't even notice the effects of the salmonella.

      June 4, 2012 at 12:28 | Report abuse |
  5. Anne

    Now the government is trying to say back yard flocks are to blame so they can tighten their hold on your food and where you get it by scaring people into thinking they will get salmonella. Gee how did we manage all those years ago. Heck the mayor of NY is trying ot stop people being able to have a choice on the size of drin they have.

    May 31, 2012 at 20:30 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Dave

    Mail order chickens... man

    May 31, 2012 at 20:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. sabina barnes

    Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of germs. 20 sec.

    May 31, 2012 at 20:50 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Huh?

    Anybody read the graphic novels of "Chew?" Well, there you go. xD

    May 31, 2012 at 21:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. canuk100

    This says more about the general atrophy of the populations immune system, than the disease. Sometimes referred to as the 'dirt vaccine' developing resistance to these bacteria comes from exposure. Then there is the diet that humans are eating that is supporting 'blooms' of these bacteria in the gut releasing them into the blood stream.

    May 31, 2012 at 21:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Angie

    CNN, can you make this a useful article and name the damn hatchery?

    May 31, 2012 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Aloisae

      The name wasn't listed in the CDC press release, Angie, and they probably didn't dig deeper or want to name a company that CDC didn't name. However, the CDC did mention that it was the same Ohio hatchery linked to the 2011 outbreak and according to the press release issued last year by the Ohio Dept. of Agriculture that was the "Mt. Healthy Hatchery".

      May 31, 2012 at 22:15 | Report abuse |
  11. Backyard Farmer

    The above story offers compelling reasons that we need to genetically modify chickens so they don’t poop. Or else convince the media not to sensationalize a non-story. Neither of which is likely. When I see articles like this, I just say “duh!”. Every day when I collect eggs, several of them have manure on them. So I clean it off and wash my hands with soap and water. When I handle a chicken, I wash my hands with soap and water. Yet some people don’t wash their hands after handling eggs and chickens. These are probably the same people that don’t wash their hands after using the restroom. What surprises me is the few reported cases of salmonella from handling chickens. Of the estimated 400,000,000 chickens sold in the United States since 2004 to backyard farmers, only 300 cases of salmonella infection have be reported. So my chances of getting infected from one of those chickens is not quite 1 in a million. And that chance probably plummets to 1 in a billion since I wash my hands with soap and water.

    May 31, 2012 at 21:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bucktooth

    Buck, Buck!!

    May 31, 2012 at 22:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Mark Glicker

      I guess the answer is to eat the chicken cooked.

      June 4, 2012 at 13:56 | Report abuse |
  13. Fairshare2

    Phew! Almost everyone in my village where I come from owns chicken. Yet, I can't remember one case of Salmonella.

    June 7, 2012 at 01:17 | Report abuse | Reply
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