Contact with chicks, ducklings and other poultry can bring people into contact with Salmonella bacteria, which can make people sick. Other pets, such as reptiles and amphibians, also can be sources of Salmonella.
Salmonella is ubiquitous, meaning it can be found virtually anywhere in the environment; but some strains of Salmonella can be more dangerous than others. Additional care is needed whenever people are in contact with poultry and their environments, especially because birds can appear clean and healthy but still carry and spread the Salmonella bacteria. Children age 5 and younger, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems are at extra risk.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tracks and investigates incidences of Salmonella infection related to live poultry and is a good source for up-to-date information on any current outbreaks. The CDC also offers advice for owners of backyard poultry flocks, mail-order hatcheries, and feed stores that sell or display live poultry.
Proper hygiene and sanitation are critical to preventing Salmonella infection associated with handling animals, including chicks, ducklings and other poultry. The CDC recommends the following preventive measures when handling live poultry:
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