Chicks, Ducklings and Salmonella


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.

Tips to Prevent Salmonella Infections in People

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Live poultry and any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for poultry birds, such as cages, feed, or water containers, should stay outside the home.
  • Equipment and materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers, should be cleaned outside the house.
  • Do not eat, drink or touch your mouth while in the area where live birds roam.
  • 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.

Additional Resources - CDC: