ROANOKE, Va. – Backyard chickens have been linked to a salmonella outbreak that has sickened dozens of people, including four people in Virginia.
According to the CDC, so far, 52 people have fallen ill in 21 states and nearly a quarter of those fallen ill are under the age of five.
No deaths have been reported, but five people have been hospitalized.
Most of the ill people came in contact with chickens or ducklings that were purchased from places such as hatcheries and agricultural stores.
Backyard chickens have become a growing trend in the Roanoke and New River valleys in recent years, with communities even changing ordinances to allow for homeowners to have them on their property.
The CDC is reminding everyone to wash their hands after handling live poultry because birds carrying the bacteria can still appear healthy and clean.
The CDC has these tips to stay healthy with your backyard flock:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
- Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.
- Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
- Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
- Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.
- Children younger than five, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry.
- Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
- Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.
- Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers.
- For a complete list of recommendations, visit the Healthy Pets, Healthy People website section on backyard poultry.