The Salmonella outbreak tied to chicks and ducklings supplied by Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, Inc. and sold through a national (and still unnamed) feed store chain has turned out to be two…two…two outbreaks in one.
CDC reported earlier today that, since February 25, 2011, the infected chicks and ducklings have been responsible for 49 cases of Salmonella Altona infections in 16 states. And a second Salmonella serotype is now in the mix. Chicks and ducklings from the same hatchery also have infected 22 people in 12 states with Salmonella Johannesburg since March 19, 2011.
The geographic distribution of illnesses associated with the two Salmonella serotypes overlap, as this CDC summary table and map clearly show. The green-colored states have reported cases of both Salmonella Altona and Salmonella Johannesburg infections.
In all, 71 people – more than one-half of them 5 years old or less – in 19 states have become ill as a result of handling these infected chicks and ducklings. Eighteen people were hospitalized. All of the illnesses so far have been reported from the eastern half of the country, including the states of Alabama (1), Arkansas (1), Georgia (3), Indiana (1), Kentucky (7), Maryland (4) , Maine (1), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), North Carolina (11), New Hampshire (1), New York (5), Ohio (12), Pennsylvania (6), Tennessee (5), Virginia (4), Vermont (3), Wisconsin (1) and West Virginia (3).
And what does the Mt. Healthy Hatcheries have to say about their role in this outbreak? NOTHING! The company simply has posted a list of Basic Safety Practices for the Handling of Poultry on its web site. No mention whatsoever of an on-going Salmonella outbreak, or of the link to Mt. Healthy Hatcheries chicks and ducklings.
As I pointed out in The Chicken Ranch (my earlier post on this outbreak), apparently healthy chickens and other poultry can harbor and spread Salmonella, Campylobacter and other diseases. Chicks, ducklings or any other fowl are not toys.
And they most certainly are not safe pets for young children!