Despite the warning, this shouldn’t deter people from keeping their birds or starting a new hobby, says Dr. Sarah Mason, director of NCDA&CS poultry health programs. “Backyard poultry is a great hobby, and we encourage people to keep chickens if they take appropriate precautions to keep themselves, their families and surrounding poultry safe,” Mason said. “Poultry owners must remember that birds inherently have a degree of risk, and even though they feel like members of the family, birds should be kept out of human living areas.”
This shouldn’t deter people from keeping their birds or starting a new hobby, says Dr. Sarah Mason, director of NCDA&CS poultry health programs.
According to the CDC, most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
Mason says there is no surefire way to test your flock for Salmonella, as sometimes the birds shed the bacteria and sometimes they don’t. The best thing to do is to assume your birds are infected with Salmonella and to practice good hand hygiene. There are vaccines available for some strains of Salmonella. If you have young children or elderly people at home, discuss vaccinations with your veterinarian to determine if there is an appropriate vaccine option for your flock.
The CDC has the following recommendations for backyard poultry owners:
Contact with live poultry and their environment can make people sick with Salmonella infections. Live poultry can be carrying Salmonella bacteria but appear healthy and clean and show no signs of illness. Follow these steps for protecting yourself and others while enjoying backyard poultry: