NY Travel Clinic

Multistate Outbreaks of Human Salmonella Infections

The CDC is warning people of four multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections which are linked to contact with chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry.  As of June 29, 2015, there are 181 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella, with cases being reported from 40 states.  There are potentially more cases because it takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks to report cases after someone becomes infected. So far, 33 people had to be hospitalized, and the seven Salmonellastrains identified are thankfully susceptible to all antibiotics tested on the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) panel.

Ninety-five sick people were interviewed, and eighty-two of these reported that they had contact with live poultry (chicks, chickens, ducks, ducklings) in the week before they became sick.

Sixty-four ill people reported purchasing live baby poultry from hatcheries in multiple states. Live poultry was purchased for backyard flocks for egg production or for meat, or to keep as pets.  Some of the infected people reported that they kissed or cuddled the live poultry.

As of June 29, 2015, the states with the most cases are Alabama (17), Ohio (15) and Mississippi (13).

Symptoms and prevention

Symptoms of infection are diarrhea, abdominal cramps, andfever 12 to 72 hours after infection, and it lasts 4 to 7 days.

Close contact with live poultry and even their environment will increase the chances of infection.  The CDC advises people to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in their cage or area.  A hand sanitizer can be used if there’s no access to soap, but then you have to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when it’s possible.  These precautions also apply when you prepare poultry as a meal.

Do not let live poultry get inside the house, especially where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.  Don’t hug, snuggle or kiss the birds, and don’t touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.  Clean their cages and other such equipment outside and away from your home.  Be aware that children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, and people with weak immune systems must not touch live poultry.These groups will have more severe symptoms from the pathogen.

Treatment

It is important to stay hydrated, and to replace electrolytes.  Plenty of water is required, and the use of oral rehydration salts might be needed.

Anti-diarrhea medication can prolong the diarrhea from a salmonella infection.  Antibiotics can prolong the infection period and the period where you can infect others.  These are used in severe cases.

Live poultry may have Salmonellain their droppings and on their feathers, feet, and beaks even if they look healthy and clean. The bacterium is also on cages, feed and water dishes, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live.

Investigations by the CDC, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), and other agencies are ongoing.