Preventing the spread of Salmonella from live animals

The risk of illness from Salmonella bacteria can be present when handling animals and caution is advised.

As the season of spring and the Easter holiday approaches, it is important to heed the advice of Michigan State University Extension (MSUE) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the handling of chicks and ducklings, animals at petting zoos, or the keeping of these animals as pets, especially when small children are present. The risk of illness from Salmonella bacteria can be present and caution is advised. Salmonellosis is an infection caused by Salmonella bacteria. People infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. In most cases, the illness lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment.

Children enjoy these opportunities to interact with the farm animals and petting zoo animals but need to be monitored for safe handling practices

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips to do right after visiting animals. Remember to protect those at highest risk, which are children 5 and under and the elderly 65 years of age and older:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use hand sanitizer until you are able to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons, pregnant women or people with weak immune systems ( e.g. someone with HIV or a cancer patient undergoing chemo-therapy) handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Do not give baby chicks and ducks to children under 5, their immune system is still developing and this makes them more susceptible to illness from the germs that can be associated with these animals.

Learning about the animals, enjoying them and learning about nature and agriculture are all exciting and worthwhile.  To keep children and others at risk safe from pathogens that cause illness follow these recommendations.

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