Raising Poultry in Backyard Poses Health Risks

Raising chickens in the backyard is becoming a popular hobby as it offers fresh eggs without the hassle of going to the supermarket or grocery.

But it comes with some health risks.

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, backyard poultry flocks infected with six strains of Salmonella are responsible for 124 illnesses across 36 states with 31 percent of the victims younger than 5 years old.

This marks the 71st Salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry since 2000. Those outbreaks sickened 4,794 people, with 894 hospitalizations and seven deaths.

Last year, the United States experienced the most substantial number of illnesses linked to contact with backyard poultry with 1,120 confirmed cases in 48 states, 249 hospitalizations and one death.

The current outbreak is caused by multiple strains of the bacteria, including Salmonella Seftenberg, Salmonella Montevideo, Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Enteritidis, Salmonella Indiana and Salmonella Litchfield.

If one keeps a backyard flock, follow these tips to stay healthy:

  • Always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in their environment
  • Don’t let children younger than five years handle or touch live poultry without adult supervision
  • Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of your birds and keep those outside of your home
  • Do not let live poultry come into or live inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios


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