Backyard poultry —cute little chicks and ducklings—are becoming popular with both rural and urban families. This can be an educational opportunity for families as well as a way to have fresh eggs.
But, backyard poultry has been recently been linked to illnesses. Over 1000 people in several states have become infected with different strains of Salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at least 175 people have been hospitalized and two people have died. Most of those who are ill are children younger than five years old. Poultry can carry the bacteria and not appear sick themselves.
The CDC offers these recommendations to those who have backyard flocks:
- Wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry and adults should supervise hand-washing by young children if they come in contact with the chickens and chicken equipment.
- Children under five (and adults over 65 and those with chronic illnesses) should avoid handling chicks, ducklings or other poultry because their bodies may not have the ability to resist infection.
- Children should not be allowed to play or eat in areas where the poultry roam.
- Keep other household pets away from the chicken area—they may carry the bacteria to the family and home.
- Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry.
- Keep chickens out of the garden. Fresh chicken droppings can be a risk of contamination to fresh produce.
- Don’t let the poultry in your house.
- Keep shoes on while working with poultry outside of the house. Remove those shoes before going into the house!
- Wash the chicken’s equipment outside and not in the kitchen with the people’s food and dishes.
While as cute as can be, take care and be mindful of this potential risk.
Cheryle Jones Syracuse. MS
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