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 Michigan State University Extension recommends that you heed the advice of 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. Additionally, the CDC reports that, “people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.”

The CDC offers the following tips to protect those at highest risk which are children 5 and under and the elderly 65 years of age and older:

  • Wash your 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.
  • Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed and water containers.
  • Do not let children younger than 5 years of age, elderly persons, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Do not let live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.

Individuals are strongly advised to limit direct contact with birds and thoroughly wash their hands immediately after any contact. Children younger than 5 especially need to be monitored closely to make sure that they don’t kiss the birds or stick their fingers in their mouths after handling them.

Following these tips will help to eliminate the spread of the salmonella bacteria and help to keep families safe from this disease.

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