CDC says backyard chickens are behind another big outbreak

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a new investigation advisory warning that backyard chickens are likely the cause of another big Salmonella outbreak across dozens of states. According to the agency, there were 163 reports of people who had become ill due to Salmonella related to this outbreak.

This outbreak, as of May 20, included reports of illnesses across 43 states; of the 163 cases, 34 patients were hospitalized as a result of the salmonella infections, though no deaths have been reported.

The CDC notes that the actual number of people who have been infected is likely 'much higher' as most people recover on their own and never seek medical attention. Notably, the CDC says that a third of the reported illnesses involved kids under the age of five.

Based on interviews with some of the people who contracted the illnesses, the CDC says that backyard poultry — such as ducks and chickens — are the probable cause of this outbreak. Healthy birds can carry the salmonella virus and spread it into their wider environment; people who come in contact with the birds or their habitats may accidentally contract the pathogen and become ill.

As with previous salmonella outbreaks involving backyard chickens, the CDC details several things people can do to reduce their risk of contracting or spreading the germs, including hand washing after touching the chickens and interacting in their environment. As well, the agency advises that kids under the age of five shouldn't be allowed to touch the birds or their habitat.

The full list of precautionary steps, as well as salmonella infection symptoms, can be found on the CDC website here.