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Rhode Islanders Reminded to Take Precautions Around Live Poultry; Cluster of Salmonella Cases Being Investigated

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is investigating a cluster of five cases (four cases in May and one in February) of human illness due to Salmonella Braenderup linked to exposure to backyard chicks. Rhode Islanders are reminded to practice good hygiene around live poultry to protect against the spread of disease. Contact with live poultry and the areas where they live can make people sick with Salmonella. Chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry that look healthy and clean can still carry Salmonella bacteria.

Guidance for people who own live poultry or are around live poultry: Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry, eggs, or anything in the area where poultry live and roam. Adults should supervise handwashing for young children. Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house. Children younger than 5 years old, adults older than 65 years old, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry. Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry. Clean any equipment used to care for live poultry outside, such as cages or feed or water containers. Do not let live poultry inside your home, especially in kitchens. Do not let live poultry in areas where food or drink are prepared, served, or stored.

Additional guidance is available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

RIDOH is working with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RI DEM) to communicate additional messaging to feed stores. This guidance includes recommendations to source birds from suppliers that have adopted the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s best management practices to mitigate Salmonella contamination; to provide health information to customers at the point of purchase; and to provide hand washing stations or hand sanitizer next to poultry display areas.

CDC is investigating eight outbreaks of a variety of strains of Salmonella in 47 states linked to live poultry in backyard flocks.

Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Anyone with these symptoms should contact their healthcare provider. For general information, the public can call RIDOH at 222-5960.

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