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Salmonella Common In U.S. Poultry
Date:1/22/2009

2 outbreaks highlight the dangers of infection from live birds, report shows

THURSDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- While peanut butter contaminated with salmonella has dominated the headlines recently, U.S. health officials cautioned Thursday that salmonella bacteria is also prevalent in live poultry.

The Jan. 23 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report details two different outbreaks of salmonella Montevideo in 2007 that were traced to live poultry.

The first outbreak was identified in September 2007 by the North Dakota Department of Health. Those stricken with the bacterial infection included three siblings, aged 1, 3 and 7. All three developed diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, and were hospitalized for eight to 10 days.

All told, an estimated 65 people -- 60 percent of them adults -- were sickened in North Dakota and 19 other states. Investigators linked the salmonella infections to the handling of live, older poultry bought for meat or egg production. The outbreak occurred in the fall and winter, and the trail eventually led to hatcheries in Iowa and four other states, the CDC said.

The second outbreak began in the spring of 2007, and 70 percent of the infections were among children -- average age 5 -- who handled baby chicks and ducklings bought as Easter pets. A total of 64 people in 23 states fell ill. The infection was traced to a New Mexico hatchery.

"Live poultry is a source of human salmonella infections," said Dr. Umid Sharapov, a CDC medical epidemiologist and co-author of the report. "Persons should wash their hands with soap and water after handling live poultry. Children younger than 5 should not be allowed to handle baby chicks."

The CDC estimates that there are 1.5 million cases of salmonella poisoning each year in the United States from a variety of causes, with undercooked meat and eggs being
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