Backyard chickens are fueling major Salmonella outbreaks across US

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes backyard chickens are largely responsible for Salmonella outbreaks that have impacted hundreds of people across the United States. In its most recent update on the outbreaks, the CDC says two infected individuals have died and more than one hundred have been hospitalized. As well, more than 700 people have been infected with the outbreak strains.

Multiple Salmonella outbreaks have impacted people across 48 states since around January 1, according to the CDC. Public health officials have linked these outbreak strains to backyard chickens, which typically refers to small flocks of laying hens kept in a coop in one's backyard.

Until now, the CDC's most recent update on the outbreaks was published on June 13. Since that date, the agency revealed in an updated advisory, another 489 people located across eight states have been added to the investigation. As well, officials have added another five Salmonella serotypes to the probe. Overall, officials say 768 cases across 48 states have been linked to the outbreaks.

As of July 19, the outbreaks have resulted in 122 hospitalizations and two deaths, one in Ohio and another in Texas. As well, 156 of the cases involve children under the age of five. Of 315 infected people interviewed by officials, 237 said they had been in contact with ducklings or chicks before contracting the illness. There's no single source for the poultry, however.

Samples from retail and backyard poultry operations in Ohio, California, Michigan, and Oregon have all tested positive for five Salmonella outbreak strains. Tackling this outbreak is more difficult than other Salmonella outbreaks due to its nature — poultry carries Salmonella and can infect anyone who isn't careful when interacting with the birds and their environment. For this reason, the CDC maintains a page dedicated to backyard poultry and how to avoid illnesses related to them.