Having chickens and other poultry as pets can be a great experience. However, children and other groups of people are more likely to contract diseases by handling live birds or any object that is found in the area where they live and roam. Even handling the chicks that are displayed in stores can cause a Salmonella infection .
There are many ways in which you can become infected with Salmonella bacteria from live poultry
Live poultry may have Salmonella microbes in their droppings or in their bodies (feathers, legs and beaks), even when they appear to be healthy and clean. Bacteria can be in cages, chicken coops, food and water containers, hay, plants and the soil in the area where birds live and roam. And bacteria can get into the hands, shoes and clothes of people who handle birds.
People can become infected with Salmonella bacteria when they touch their mouths with their hands or other objects that were in contact with live poultry. Young children are more likely to get sick because their immune system is still developing and they are more likely to put their fingers or pacifiers in their mouths.
People who have contact with objects found in areas where poultry live, such as food or water containers, can get sick without ever touching one of the birds. The germs in your hands can spread easily to other people or surfaces, so it is important to wash your hands immediately with soap and water after touching the poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
Do not risk your health. Since 2000, 70 outbreaks of Salmonella were associated with live poultry: 4 794 cases of disease, 894 hospitalizations and 7 deaths. Do not risk your health[887 KB] * (In Spanish)[886 KB]
Wash your hands and take other steps to reduce your chances of getting Salmonella infection
- Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching live poultry or other objects that are in the area where they live and prowl.
- Adults should supervise hand washing of young children.
- If there is no soap and water at your disposal, use hand sanitizer.
- Do not allow poultry to enter the house, especially areas where food and beverages are prepared, served or stored.
- Separate a pair of shoes to use when you are dealing with poultry and keep them out of the house.
- Do not allow children under 5 years of age, adults over 65 or people with weakened immune systems for conditions such as HIV / AIDS, cancer treatment or organ transplantation to manipulate or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry.
- Do not eat or drink in the area where birds live or roam.
- Do not kiss or hug the birds and then touch your face or mouth.
- Stay outdoors when cleaning equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages or food or water containers.
- Buy live poultry in hatcheries that participate in the US Salmonella Monitoring Program. UU[279 KB]* from the National Poultry Improvement Plan of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA-NPIP). This program, which is voluntary, aims to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in the chicks in the hatchery, which helps to prevent the transmission of diseases between birds and people.
Chickens and other poultry can carry bacteria such as Salmonella, which can contaminate the inside of the eggs before the shell forms. Eggs can also be contaminated by the droppings of poultry.
Tips for safely handling eggs from domestic poultry
Shell eggs can be contaminated with Salmonella while the hen lays the eggs, once laid, through the food or the beds of the birds. To keep your family healthy, when picking up and handling the eggs of the poultry follow these tips:
- Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling eggs, chickens or whatever is in your environment.
- Keep the chicken coop clean. Cleaning the chicken coop, floors, nests and innkeepers regularly will help keep the eggs clean.
- Collect eggs frequently. Eggs that spend a significant amount of time in the nest can get dirty or break. Broken eggs should be discarded.
- Eggs with dirt and debris can be cleaned with a fine sandpaper, brush or cloth. Do not wash the eggs, because colder water could cause the bacteria to enter the egg.
- Refrigerate the eggs after picking them up.
- Cook the eggs well. Raw or undercooked eggs contain Salmonella bacteria that can make you sick.
- Know what are the local regulations for the sale of eggs. If you sell eggs, it is important to comply with the requirements of local licenses.
Know more about Salmonella and eggs .
Live poultry can be carriers of avian influenza viruses. Avian influenza very rarely makes people sick. Learn more about avian influenza and the steps you can take to protect yourself.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection
Salmonella microbes can cause the following in people:
- Abdominal cramps
Sometimes, people get so sick from a Salmonella infection that they have to go to the hospital. Children under 5 years of age, adults over 65 and people with weakened immune systems, including pregnant women, are more likely to have serious illness due to Salmonella .
The CDC website on Salmonella * has more information about Salmonella infections . If you think you or your child has a Salmonella infection , contact your health care provider immediately.
The rules for living poultry depend on where you live
The rules and regulations vary by city, county and state; check with your local government to know what the rules are for your area.
Links to websites can lead to pages in English or Spanish.