Salmonella outbreaks connected with ducklings, chicks

Published on July 27, 2011
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About 70 illnesses have been reported in connection with two Salmonella outbreaks associated with chicks and ducklings, federal health authorities said.

The illnesses in the eastern half of the continental U.S. involved Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg, both of which are rare serotypes of Salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The outbreaks had similar geographic distribution, affecting people in states along the Atlantic coast and as far west as Minnesota and Arkansas.

By June 10, the CDC had received 71 reports of illness that involved the outbreak strains. Of those, 49 became ill from Salmonella Altona between Feb. 25 and June 6, and 22 became ill from Salmonella Johannesburg between March 19 and May 24.

Of 62 people interviewed in the two outbreak investigations, 44 reported contact with chicks, ducklings, or both, and 38 recalled buying the birds from the same chain of agricultural feed stores. The birds were bought for use as egg producers or pets.

The CDC investigations indicate a mail-order hatchery based in Ohio was the source of the chicks and ducklings colonized with the outbreak strains.

The Ohio departments of Agriculture and Health released a joint statement indicating that the source of the birds, Mt. Healthy Hatchery, and the chain feed store, which was not named, were working with state and federal officials to investigate the outbreak and prevent additional illnesses. Other companies may have also received and sold birds infected with the bacteria, the state officials said.