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Department for Public Health Gives Guidance on Reducing Salmonella Risk from Live Poultry

Wednesday, 03 13, 2013

Media Contact: Beth Fisher or Gwenda Bond
(502) 564-6786, ext. 3101 or 3100

Simple Steps Can Help Prevent Infection

FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 13, 2013) – The Kentucky Department for Public Health (DPH) is reminding Kentuckians that salmonella infections don’t just come from contaminated food. Infections can come from contact with animals. Many salmonella infections occur in people who have contact with certain types of animals, especially poultry. 

“Backyard poultry flocks are very popular today in Kentucky so it’s worth the time to review a few good safety rules when handling live birds,” says Dr. John Poe, state public health veterinarian. “Washing hands thoroughly, cleaning equipment used with live poultry and making sure live poultry remain outside are measures everyone should take to prevent illness. As we move into chick season this spring, it’s particularly important to observe these guidelines.”

In 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported eight outbreaks involving contact with live poultry that sickened more than 450 nationwide, more than recorded in any year previously. It also reported the largest outbreak of human salmonella infections linked to backyard flocks in a single year. Each year DPH receives reports of salmonella infections as a result of exposure to live poultry, and Kentucky had 13 human cases related to two of the 2012 multi-state outbreaks recorded by CDC.

Live poultry may have salmonella germs in their droppings and on their feathers, feet and beaks even when they appear healthy and clean. While salmonella doesn't typically make birds sick, salmonella germs can cause a diarrheal illness in people that ranges from mild to severe and in some cases can even be life threatening. Infants, seniors and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. 

DPH recommends following these simple steps to prevent illness:

• Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
• Clean equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages and feed or water containers.
• Never bring live poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially into areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.

To learn more about the risk of human salmonella Infections from live poultry you can visit CDC’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/features/salmonellababybirds/

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The Cabinet for Health and Family Services is home to most of the state's human services and health care programs, including Medicaid, the Department for Community Based Services and the Department for Public Health. CHFS is one of the largest agencies in state government, with nearly 8,000 full and part-time employees throughout the Commonwealth focused on improving the lives and health of Kentuckians.