Chicks, Ducklings and Salmonella


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have been investigating outbreaks in 2011, 2012 and 2013 of salmonellosis associated with handling chicks and ducklings. Two rare strains of Salmonella were involved in outbreaks in 2011: Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg. A total of 68 people in 20 states were infected with Salmonella Altona, and 19 were hospitalized. No deaths were reported. A total of 28 people in 15 states were infected with Salmonella Johannesburg, and 22 were hospitalized.  The outbreaks were traced to Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio.

In 2012,outbreaks involving a total of 5 strains of Salmonella were associated with handling chicks and ducklings. 

  • Salmonella Hadar: 37 people in 11 states; 8 hospitalized, no deaths; 37% of people infected were 10 years of age or younger. This outbreak was traced back to Estes Hatchery in Springfield, MO.
  • Salmonella Montevideo: 66 people in 20 states; 16 hospitalized, 1 unrelated death; 35% of people infected were 10 years of age or younger. This outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo has been traced back to a hatchery in Idaho identified only as Hatchery B.
  • Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Lille: 163 people in 26 states; 33% of those ill were hospitalized.Two deaths have been reported, but it is unclear whether the Salmonella infection caused either death.  This outbreak has been traced to Mt. Healthy Hatchery in Ohio, the same hatchery involved in the 2011 outbreaks.

As of August 9, 2013, the CDC has reported that a total of 307 people from 38 states have been infected with Salmonella typhimurium as a result of handling chicks, ducklings and other live baby poultry. One quarter of those infected have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The majority (60%) of the infections have occurred in children 10 years of age or younger.

Animals, particularly poultry, reptiles and amphibians, and some animal feeds can be sources of Salmonella infection in people. Proper hygiene and sanitation are critical to preventing Salmonella infection associated with handling animals. The CDC recommends the following preventive measures when handling live poultry:

  • 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 or 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.

Additional resources:


National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV):