The Washington State Department of Health is working with local and federal public health partners to investigate 11 identified cases of salmonella linked to backyard poultry in Pierce, Kitsap, Snohomish, Lincoln, King, Yakima and Lewis counties. This is part of a nationwide outbreak that has sickened 219 people in 38 states.
In Washington, two people have been hospitalized and no deaths have been reported. People who became ill range in age from less than 1 year to 64 years old. Three of the 11 people affected are children younger than 5 years old. All patients who were able to be interviewed reported recently purchasing young poultry, such as chicks or ducklings.
Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious disease and sometimes death. Children under 5, adults over 65 and others with weakened immune systems are most likely to get sick from salmonella and should avoid handling live poultry.
Backyard poultry, like chickens and ducks, can carry salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean. Salmonella germs are spread by touching backyard poultry or anything in the areas where they live and roam and then touching your mouth or food with unwashed hands.
“If you have a backyard flock, please take proper precautions. Always wash your hands thoroughly after you’ve touched live poultry or anything in their environment,” said Washington State Chief Science Officer Tao Sheng Kwan-Gett, MD.
Backyard flock owners can help prevent the spread of salmonella by taking these steps.
People usually become sick from Salmonella one to three days after infection. Symptoms include diarrhea that can be bloody, fever, chills, stomach cramps, and occasionally vomiting.
Most people infected with salmonella recover without treatment after four to seven days. However, some people may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization.