Out­break has CDC squawk­ing about city chick­ens

Modern Healthcare - - Outliers Asides & Insides -

Pub­lic health of­fi­cials are cry­ing fowl over a re­cent spike in poul­try-re­lated dis­eases—back­yard fowl, to be ex­act. Since Jan­uary, nearly 1,000 peo­ple have con­tracted sal­mo­nella poi­son­ing from chick­ens and ducks in 48 states and the Dis­trict of Columbia. More than 200 were hos­pi­tal­ized and one per­son died. Of­fi­cials at the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion say that toll was four times higher than in 2015.

While there aren’t any re­li­able na­tional fig­ures for how many city folk have taken to keep­ing chick­ens, there’s a vo­cal com­mu­nity of do­mes­ti­cated fowl lovers on the web, with more than 340,000 peo­ple fol­low­ing the Face­book page of Back­yard Poul­try mag­a­zine. A sur­vey this year by the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia at Davis School of Ve­teri­nary Medicine found about 100,000 ur­ban poul­try en­thu­si­asts in that state alone.

One big fac­tor in the dis­ease out­break is ur­ban farm­ers get­ting too af­fec­tion­ate with their birds or let­ting them inside the house. As the CDC states in its health ad­vice on back­yard chick­ens, “Avoid kiss­ing your birds or snug­gling them, then touch­ing your mouth.”

The surge in poul­try-re­lated dis­ease seems to be di­rectly tied to the ur­ban hen­house trend. “In 2017, CDC and mul­ti­ple states in­ves­ti­gated 10 sep­a­rate mul­ti­state out­breaks of sal­mo­nella in­fec­tions in peo­ple who had con­tact with live poul­try in back­yard flocks,” ac­cord­ing to the CDC.

Poul­try can carry sal­mo­nella bac­te­ria in their in­testines that can turn up in their fe­ces. The bac­te­ria then can at­tach to feath­ers and dust and brush off on shoes or cloth­ing.

But the CDC says ill­nesses can be pre­vented with proper han­dling, in­clud­ing wash­ing hands af­ter touch­ing the birds.

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