Baby Chicks Crawling With Salmonella
Not Just Peanut Butter: Two 2007-2008 Salmonella Outbreaks Traced to Chicks
WebMD News Archive
Salmonella, Chicks, and Kids
An analysis of the 2007 cases appears in today's issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality weekly Report. The story began in June 2007, when the Minnesota Department of Health found that two people infected with Salmonella Montevideo had been exposed to chicks from the same Iowa hatchery. Then the North Dakota Department of Health detected the same salmonella strain in three siblings ages 1, 3, and 7. All three children were hospitalized for eight to 10 days.
That spurred a nationwide investigation by CDC and state health departments. In 2007, that investigation traced 65 cases of salmonella illness to chicks not only from the original Iowa hatchery, but from seven other hatcheries in four other states.
And investigators detected a second, simultaneous Salmonella Montevideo outbreak, also in live chicks but not related to the first outbreak. This outbreak was traced to a hatchery in New Mexico and a hatchery in Ohio. Salmonella with the same molecular fingerprint has been popping up every year since 2004.
The first outbreak peaked in the summer. Most of those infected were adults, although 40% of cases were in children and teens under age 18. Many of those infected had touched, snuggled, or cared for chicks. Of the 15 exposures with a known location, 15 occurred in a "farm setting."
The second outbreak peaked in the spring, around Easter. Seventy percent of those infected were children -- the median age at infection was 5. Most exposures occurred at home.
The CDC says parents should never give chicks as gifts to young children. The CDC also recommends:
- Kids under age 5 should never be allowed to handle chicks or other live poultry.
- Treat any surface that comes into contact with live poultry as if it's contaminated with salmonella. This includes hands, floors, tables, rugs, shipment boxes, dust, and chicken enclosures.
- After touching live poultry -- or surfaces in contact with live poultry -- wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.