Health officials at the Michigan Departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Community Health warn parents that the baby poultry found in feed and pet stores in the spring may carry Salmonella, a common bacterial illness found in the droppings of poultry that can cause illness in people.
“Raising birds can be a great experience, but children need to be supervised and wash their hands after handling chicks and other poultry,” said State Veterinarian Dr. James Averill. “Even birds that appear healthy can carry bacteria that will make people sick.”
“Live poultry, especially baby poultry, can carry Salmonella germs, so it’s important to not keep them in the house and to wash your hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live or roam,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health. “Treating poultry like you would a pet increases the risk for Salmonella infection in a household.”
Salmonella can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting 4-7 days or more. People should always assume baby chicks carry Salmonella and should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:
Children younger than five-years-of-age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Chicks should have a heat lamp and should be kept in a barn or garage, in a draft-free cage that keeps predators out.
Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
Do not kiss the chicks.
Do not touch your mouth, smoke, eat, or drink after handling live poultry.
Clean all equipment such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house.
For more information, visit: http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-04-13/advice-consumers.html