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For the second time in less than a year, the Mt. Healthy Hatchery – a mail-order chicken hatchery located in Ohio – is the source of a multi-state and multi-strain Salmonella outbreak.

CDC reported today that 93 people from 23 states were infected with one of the outbreak strains, which include Salmonella Infantis, Salmonella Newport, and Salmonella Lille. Eighteen people have been hospitalized; one death is under investigation.

Illnesses have been reported from the following states: Alabama (3), Georgia (3), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kentucky (4), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (1), Maryland (1), Maine (2), Michigan (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (9), New York (13), Ohio (26), Pennsylvania (9), Rhode Island (1), South Carolina (1), Tennessee (4), Texas (1), Virginia (6), Vermont (1), and West Virginia (1).

More than one-third (37%) of the outbreak victims are 10 years of age or younger; the youngest is less than one year old. Illness onset dates range from March 1, 2012 to May 19, 2012. Additional illnesses that occurred after May 6th may not yet have been reported.

Investigations carried out jointly by local, state and federal agencies traced the outbreak to exposure to chicks and ducklings from a single mail-order hatchery in Ohio. The same hatchery – identified last year by the Ohio Department of Agriculture as Mt. Healthy Hatchery – was the source of a similar outbreak around this time last year.

The link between this outbreak and the hatchery is incontrovertible. According to CDC, four chick and duckling samples from different homes in Ohio and New York yielded the three Salmonella outbreak strains. The source of these chicks and ducklings was Mt. Healthy Hatchery.

Last year’s outbreak peaked around Easter – the traditional time for introducing chicks and ducklings as household pets. This year’s outbreak time curve is following the same pattern.

CDC offers the following advice to consumers who want to reduce – NOT eliminate – the risk of Salmonella infection from live baby poultry:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Don’t snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live baby poultry.
  • Don’t let live baby poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
  • Do not eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Don’t clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers, inside the house.
  • Don’t give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.
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