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posted on March 24, 2014 11:44

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                        Date: March 24, 2014

Contact:  Niki Forbing-Orr
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0693

Backyard poultry, Easter chicks and ducklings are potential sources of Salmonella

The chicks and ducklings in feed stores are a sure sign that spring has arrived. Backyard poultry enthusiasts are establishing or replenishing their flocks, while others may be considering giving chicks and ducklings to children as Easter presents. But be aware that poultry can transmit potentially harmful bacteria to those who handle them improperly.

In fact, between 1996 and 2012, 45 outbreaks of human Salmonella infections in the United States were linked to live poultry from mail-order hatcheries. Baby chicks and ducklings from mail-order hatcheries are distributed nationally to agricultural feed stores and other retail outlets or directly to homes. Public health and agriculture officials encourage people to think hard before purchasing poultry, particularly for the very young, the old, and those with compromised immune systems, because of the risk of acquiring the Salmonella bacteria.  

“We want to discourage the idea that chicks and ducklings make good pets in urban households,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “They grow into adults fairly quickly, and a long-term commitment to raising them, whether as a backyard poultry enthusiast or as an Easter pet, needs to be in place before considering owning these birds. They can transfer potentially harmful bacteria, such as Salmonella, to anyone who handles them if they don’t take some precautions”

Chicks, ducklings, and other poultry naturally carry Salmonella bacteria in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks), even when they seem to be healthy and clean. Salmonella bacteria usually don’t make the birds sick, but the bacteria can cause diarrhea in people ranging from mild to severe, or even life threatening.  In addition to diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps can occur. Children younger than 5, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness from Salmonella infection and may want to avoid handling live poultry altogether.

These simple steps will help protect yourself and others from getting sick:

  • Do wash handsthoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Do cleanall contaminated surfaces frequently. This includes any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages, feed and water bowls, and any items that might be brought into the home.
  • Don’t takelive poultry inside the house, the bathroom, or in any area where human food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
  • Don’t eat or drink in areas where birds live or roam.
  • Don’t let children under 5 years handle, snuggle, or kiss chicks or ducklings.


To learn more about the risk of human Salmonella infections from live poultry visit the CDC website: