Submitted by Patrick Burke
regional epidemiologist, MOVHD

Peep, chirp, quack! Live baby poultry, such as chicks, ducklings, goslings, and baby turkeys, can carry harmful germs called Salmonella and officials from the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are encouraging residents to use caution around live poultry. Around spring, stores display or sell live poultry and children may be able to touch the birds or areas where they are displayed.

"Because these birds are so soft and cute, many people do not realize the potential danger that live baby poultry can be, especially to children. Every year, some children become infected with Salmonella" said Patrick Burke, regional epidemiologist at the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department. "There are usually 7 or 8 cases of Salmonella each year in the Mid-Ohio Valley region, with most occurring in the spring and summer months."

Live baby poultry can carry Salmonella and not appear sick, but can spread the germs to people. Children can be exposed to Salmonella by holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds and by touching things where the bird lives, such as cages or feed and water bowls. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.

Health officials are reminding all residents this spring:

1.) Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.

2.) Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.

3.) Don't let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.

4.) Don't snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live baby poultry.

5.) Don't let live baby 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.

6.) Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.

7.) Don't clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers, inside the house.

8.) Don't give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.

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