Posted at: 04/25/2013 12:28 PM
Updated at: 04/25/2013 5:38 PM
By: KOB.com staff
The New Mexico Department of Health has confirmed an outbreak of lab-confirmed Salmonella infections in seven people related to baby poultry.
Four of the cases were in infants 13 months of age or younger and two of them were hospitalized.
The seven cases reside in Curry, Eddy, Lea, Luna, Otero, and Taos counties respectively. The department is warning families to keep baby chicks or other baby birds out of their homes and use caution in order to avoid Salmonella infection.
“Salmonella infection in young children can be a very serious illness, sometimes fatal,” said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward. “We are urging families that have recently purchased baby birds to not allow the animals inside their home where they can contaminate the environment and potentially infect people, especially children.”
Early symptoms of Salmonella in people include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain. These symptoms develop one to three days after exposure to baby chicks and their droppings. Other symptoms might include nausea, chills or headaches.
“Salmonella is often present in the droppings of chicks and other baby birds, even though the animals themselves usually won’t show signs of illness,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, Public Health veterinarian at the Department of Health. “That makes it easy for people to let their guard down, and that’s when they run the risk of getting Salmonella. An increasing number of people around New Mexico are choosing to keep live poultry, such as chickens or ducks, as part of a greener, healthier lifestyle. While they enjoy the benefits of backyard chickens and other poultry, it is important to consider the risk of illness, especially for children, which can result from handling live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.”
Salmonella infection is especially risky when parents keep the baby birds inside the house and allow their small children to handle and snuggle with them.
Other cases can occur when parents don’t wash their hands properly after handling the birds, indirectly giving the infection to their children.
The Department recommends that people young and old take the following preventive measures:
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching live baby birds 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 snuggle or kiss baby birds.