- 181 people infected, 33 hospitalized, none dead;
- Outbreaks started as early as Feb. 20 2015 and continue to today and beyond;
- Infections are spread across 40 States in the USA;
- 4 simultaneous outbreaks (40 people across 16 States, 69 people across 30 States, 56 people across 16 States; 16 people across 8 States);
- 9 different strains of Salmonella are involved;
- 86% of the infected persons reported contact with poultry prior to becoming sick;
- 95 ill people have been interviewed so far to trace the source of these infections;
- 67% of the ill people who had purchase records available, reported purchasing live baby poultry from 17 different feed supply stores and hatcheries spread across multiple States;
- Multiple hatcheries have been identified as the source of the infected chicks and ducklings;
- None of the Salmonella strains are Superbugs (ie. resistant to 1 or more antibiotics)
- Many of the ill people report cuddling, kissing, or having the poultry inside their homes
In Canada, Canadian Hatchery Egg Producers ("CHEP") says there are 240 broiler hatching egg farmers in eight provinces across Canada. There are even more who do other eggs than broiler chickens. Only 12 of those hatcheries are HACCP (ie. biosecurity & food safety) certified by CFIA.
CDC offers the following recommendations for backyard poultry to protect against Salmonella infections.
Cuddling, kissing, or having the poultry inside your homes (rather than keeping the poultry in an outdoor coop) significantly raise the risk of infecting humans, and are not recommended.
Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap & water before handling poultry (to protect the birds), and washed again after you are finished handling poultry (to protect the people). Never, ever kiss or cuddle poultry, nor touch your face with hands that might be infected with Salmonella.
Also, in addition to the Salmonella that could be lurking there, be aware that some hatcheries purposefully place drugs on the chick's yellow fluff feathers, the drug dries on the chick's fluff, then other chicks will peck off the drug and eat it, thereby becoming dosed with the prescribed chicken drug.
|Epidemic Spread Timeline for Salmonella Infections in Backyard Poultry in USA|
Vaccination of chicken flocks against Salmonella can be done, but we don't know if this was done by these hatcheries. Vaccination against salmonella only reduces the risk by 1/3 to 1/2 for the flock's Salmonella incidence rate of what occurs among non-vaccinated flocks (see http://aem.asm.org/content/76/23/7820.full ). Were these Salmonella outbreaks a case of stopping vaccination programs for the infected chicks, or were we just lucky prior to this? Today, we have no answers.
It seems to me that these small flocks were cross-contaminated from the same source: the hatcheries who provided the Salmonella contaminated chicks.
Small Flockers have little or no capability to detect, prevent, or mitigate the risks from an infected supply (chicks or otherwise) that is purchased by a Small Flock farmer. Small Flockers trust (perhaps too much) that their suppliers will provide healthy, non-contaminated chicks, feed, supplies, etc.
Allowing (or encouraging) family or visitors to kiss baby chicks, or not wash hands before or after contact with farm animals is a breach of biosecurity protocols, whether on Small Flock farms, or commercial chicken factories. High risk behaviours that are strongly recommended against.