Having pet birds is a rising trend in the U.S. and, combined with the popularity of petting zoos and other similar establishments, has contributed to a rise in interaction between humans and poultry birds. However, the CDC warns, snuggling with birds such as chickens, ducks, and geese is established to be a key mode of transmission of bird-borne pathogens, including salmonella, and should be minimized to avoid a repeat of 2016, the record year for abdominal conditions such as diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, and fever.
2017 Not Going Well So Far
Last year, almost 900 people contracted salmonella from birds. In 2017, 372 patients have been reported from January 4 till May 3. 2017 has also seen eight multi-state outbreaks so far, leading to 70 hospitalizations. Handling pet ducks, geese, and chickens is identified as the key cause in the contraction of salmonella. However, salmonella also often goes unreported, while the association between the abdominal conditions and the bird-borne microbe can also be missed due to many people not revealing their close association with birds to the doctor. Salmonella is rarely deadly, but if sufficient care is taken to avoid dehydration, medical attention may not be needed in many cases.
What to Keep in Mind While Handling Ducks, Chicks, and Geese?
The close association between poultry birds and salmonella doesn’t mean handling birds is to be avoided at all costs, but following certain precautionary measures is vital. Some infected birds may also appear perfectly healthy due to salmonella’s lack of clear physical markers, which raises the risk of contraction immensely. Sanitizing the hands after touching birds or anything that has touched their feces is a crucial step in avoiding the spread of salmonella. Individuals with weak or weakened immune systems, including infants and geriatrics, are particularly at risk from salmonella, and should be kept well away from the birds.