Salmonella outbreak sickens hundreds, yields warning from CDC: Don't 'kiss or snuggle' these animals

At least 1 death in Oklahoma has been linked to the outbreak

A salmonella outbreak linked to backyard poultry that has affected people in nearly every state across the country has sickened hundreds more since a federal agency last provided an update on the outbreak in July.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday announced that since its last update on the outbreak on July 29, some 408 additional people have fallen ill.

“CDC and public health officials in 49 states are investigating 16 multistate outbreaks of Salmonella infections linked to contact with poultry in backyard flocks, such as chicks and ducklings. The number of illnesses reported this year sets a record number of illnesses as compared to past years’ outbreaks linked to backyard flocks,” the CDC said when announcing the update.

The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the U.S. every year. 

The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the U.S. every year.  (iStock)

More specifically, as of Tuesday, at least 1,346 people overall have been infected with one of the outbreak strains. At least 229 people have been hospitalized, and at least one death in Oklahoma has been linked to the outbreak. Overall, 23% of those sickened are children younger than 5 years of age, per the CDC.

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Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence has linked backyard poultry to the outbreak," the CDC said, noting that at least 416 of the 613 ill people interviewed by investigators — 68% to be exact —  “reported contact with chicks and ducklings,” said the federal agency.

“People reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources, including agricultural stores, websites, and hatcheries,” officials noted. “Testing of backyard poultry and their environments (such as backyard coops) in Kentucky and Oregon found three of the outbreak strains.”

Salmonella is a bacteria that can infect humans when they consume contaminated water or food. However, “you can get sick with a Salmonella infection from touching backyard poultry or their environment. Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean and show no signs of illness,” the CDC said when warning to not “kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.”

Other tips to avoid salmonella infections from backyard poultry can be found here. 

Symptoms of salmonella usually develop 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria, with most people developing diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment.

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"In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized," according to the CDC. "Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body."

Federal health officials say that children younger than 5 years of age, pregnant women, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.

The CDC estimates salmonella causes about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the U.S. every year.