UK poultry specialists urge caution in midst of salmonella outbreak



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LEXINGTON, Ky.

With at least 21 Kentuckians recently contracting salmonella, University of Kentucky poultry specialists are urging those with small flocks to be proactive about preventing the bacteria.

“The old quote ‘the best defense is a strong offense’ really holds true when keeping poultry,” said Jacqueline Jacob, UK poultry extension project manager for the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “Many of the cases in the current outbreak are linked to backyard flocks, so we want to remind folks of simple things they can do to protect themselves.”

Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting seven separate outbreaks in 35 states with more than 300 people infected. Jacob said it’s important to remember any chicken can carry salmonella, regardless of where poultry owners purchase them. They can carry the bacteria even if they look clean and healthy.

Poultry owners should always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching live birds or anything in the area where they live. They should not bring live poultry into the house or let young children handle chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without supervision. In the current outbreaks, 88 of the ones infected are children younger than 5 years of age.

“Any contact with live poultry puts you at risk for salmonella infection,” Jacob said. “Salmonella germs can be in the birds’ droppings and on their bodies and also on their cages, coops, hay, plants and the soil where they live and roam.”

Jacob said poultry handlers should keep the birds away from their noses, mouth and eyes. Shows and fairs with birds and chicks on display should have a way for people to wash their hands or provide sanitizer with 99 percent or higher bacteria kill rate.

“It’s also a good practice to be careful when you wash equipment or eggs in the kitchen sink,” she said. “You don’t want to cross contaminate food. Always use a good disinfectant to clean up in the kitchen when you’re finished.”

For more information about the current outbreak visit the CDC website at http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/live-poultry-05-16/index.html. For more general information about raising small poultry flocks, visit the UK Poultry Extension website at http://www2.ca.uky.edu/smallflocks/Health.html. 

Contact: 

Jacqueline Jacob, 859-257-7613

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