Everyone loves animals these days but cuddling up with baby chicks and ducklings isn't a great idea. It's being blamed for a major salmonella outbreak that has infected at least 181 people in 40 states.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the outbreak is largely caused by consumers bringing live poultry into their homes, cudding with them, kissing them and generally getting up close and personal with their flocks.
The CDC said that 86 percent of the infected people who were interviewed said they had been in close contact with live poultry. No deaths have been reported but at least 33 people were hospitalized.
If you must handle poultry, the CDC suggests washing your hands thoroughly and cleaning up any inside area where the creatures may have been. Better yet, CDC says, keep barnyard animals in the barnyard.
Salmonella is endemic in U.S. chicken populations and both eggs and raw poultry can be sources of infection.
Onset time for salmonellosis is usually 6 to 48 hours. Acute symptoms include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, minal diarrhea, fever, and headache. Arthritic symptoms may follow 3-4 weeks after the onset of acute symptoms.
Acute symptoms may last for 1 to 2 days or may be prolonged, again depending on host factors, ingested dose, and strain characteristics.
Salmonellosis can cause severe and even fatal illness in small children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
The incidence of salmonellosis appears to be rising both in the U.S. and in other industrialized nations. The strain known as S. enteritidis has shown a dramatic rise in the past decade, particularly in the northeast United States, and the increase in human infections is spreading south and west, with sporadic outbreaks in other regions.