According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 372 people have become infected with salmonella in 47 states. 83 percent of the patients reported being in contact with live poultry the week before getting sick.

The CDC warns that chickens, ducks, and other domestic birds can carry the Salmonella bacteria even if they appear to be completely healthy.

Image credit: Chicken Whisperer Magazine
Image credit: Chicken Whisperer Magazine

Luckily, no deaths have been reported, although 36 percent of the infected are children younger than five years old.

Wash your hands after handling live poultry

In 2016, 895 people became infected with Salmonella, and the rate does not seem to go down, which is why the CDC is issuing new guidelines to help fight the outbreak. The issue is that the 372 cases may represent an underreporting of the total number of infections, as many people who get Salmonella do not reach out to authorities.

Salmonella is a bacteria that spreads through contact with animal feces, particularly those of reptiles and birds, but it may also come from small rodents. Doctors always advise washing one’s hands after getting in touch with these animals.

Owners of backyard flock should wash their hands after they finished handling the area where poultry lives. It is also advisable to wash clothes and shoes that have been in contact with the flock. Additionally, the CDC warns against allowing poultry to live inside the house in any area, and never allow them to reside where food is prepared or stored.

Image credit: Pinterest
Image credit: Pinterest

The CDC suggests that people with weakened immune systems, including children, the elderly, and pregnant women should not handle live poultry, as they are more likely to become infected with Salmonella.

More importantly, one should never allow the birds to reach one’s mouth. They should not be kissed or be allowed to remain in areas where people are drinking or eating.

The same rules apply for collecting eggs, although the eggs should not be washed with cold water, as it may allow bacteria to flourish on the shell. If the egg is dirty, the best course of action is to clean them with fine sandpaper. When cooking eggs, they should be cooked thoroughly, as raw eggs may contain the Salmonella bacteria.

Salmonella infection is rarely lethal. Usually, it enters the body through the mouth and causes symptoms to appear three days later after infection, developing into salmonellosis. The disease can be cured with standard care, as the most severe symptoms are diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead the patient to dehydration. Only a small number of reported cases have evolved into more serious conditions, such as reactive arthritis.

The best way to treat salmonellosis is to manage its symptoms until the body deals with the infection. Usually, antibiotics are not needed unless the disease is not rightfully treated. The patient should be provided with rehydrating drinks, such as Pedialyte or simply water. Drinks that contain sugar are not advised as they can worsen the dehydration. Sugary drinks also lack electrolytes, which are rapidly lost as the patient suffers from salmonellosis’ symptoms.

Source: CDC