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Salmonella Infection from Backyard Chickens Continues


According to a CDC release, posted on July 23rd, a total of 672 cases of salmonellosis have been diagnosed in 47 states. Patients ranged from 1 to 97 years in age with 181 cases in children aged under 5 years.  The ongoing outbreak has resulted in 157 hospitalizations and two fatalities.


It is reasonable to assume that the number of diagnosed cases is far lower than the actual incidence since not all affected people seek medical attention or if they do, not all are subjected to fecal culture. 


Of 423 patients interviewed, 292 reported direct contact with backyard poultry within a week of onset of symptoms.  In some cases, common Salmonella serovars have been isolated from chickens and patients applying whole genome sequences.  Of 554 samples evaluated, 38 percent were predicted to be resistant to one or more antibacterials used in human therapy.


The CDC issued a series of suggestions to prevent infection including washing of hands, supervising children in the vicinity of chickens and thorough cooking of eggs derived from backyard flocks.  From the incidence rate, it would appear that these precautions do not provide adequate protection. As with turtles in the 1970s, backyard chicks and ducklings are inappropriate pets for children.