In what seems to be an annual occurrence, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday reported a wave of Salmonella infections linked to live poultry, consisting of seven separate outbreaks that have sickened 324 people in 35 states.
Investigations have linked the outbreaks to contact with live poultry including chicks and ducklings from multiple hatcheries. Illnesses began in January, and 66 people have been hospitalized. One death has been reported, but the CDC said Salmonella isn’t thought to have been a contributing factor.
Similar outbreaks last year involving four Salmonella strains sickened at least 252 people in 43 states, and one in 2014 linked to three strains resulted in 363 cases from 43 states and Puerto Rico.
States with the highest number of cases are Michigan (34), New York (34), Ohio (33), North Carolina (26), Kentucky (21), and Pennsylvania (20). Public health officials are using PulseNet, the national subtyping database, to identify other illnesses that might be part of the outbreaks.
Of the sick people, 27% (88) are children aged 5 years or younger.
The Salmonella subtypes involved in the seven outbreaks include:
- Braenderup: 38 people in 14 states, illness onsets ranging from Jan 27 to May 5
- Enteritidis: 132 in 15 states, onsets Jan 4 to May 11
- Hadar: 42 in 15 states, onsets Mar 21 to May 5
- Indiana: 46 in 13 states, onsets Mar 26 to May 9
- Infantis: 35 in 16 states, onsets Feb 19 to May 9
- Mbandaka: 12 in 7 states, onsets Mar 13 to May 4
- Muenster: 19 in 7 states, onsets Mar 11 to May 9
Interviews with 238 sick people revealed that 91% (217) had had contact with live poultry the week before they became ill. Many had purchased live baby poultry from a variety of suppliers, including feed stores, co-ops, hatcheries, and friends in multiple states. The birds were bought for several reasons, including learning about agriculture, for egg production, to have as pets, or to give as Easter gifts.
Some of the exposures were reported at homes, work, or school settings.
Antibiotic resistance testing on isolates collected from three of the patients found that all were susceptible to all antibiotics tested.
Children especially at risk
The CDC warned that contact with live poultry and their environments carries the risk of Salmonella infection, regardless of where they are purchased, and that even if birds look healthy, they can carry bacteria in their droppings and on their bodies.
The agency added that children, especially, can be exposed to Salmonella by holding, touching, and kissing the birds and by touching items in the birds’ environments, such as cages, feed, and water bowls.
In an accompanying Q and A on the outbreak, the CDC urged the public to always wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after handling live poultry or anything in their area, and that adults should supervise young children’s hand washing.
The CDC also urged mail order hatcheries and feed stores to take steps to inform and protect consumers.
Jun 2 CDC outbreak announcement
Jun 2 CDC advice for consumers and retailers
Jul 2, 2015, CIDRAP News story “CDC: Salmonella cases in 40 states tied to live poultry”
[Byline Lisa Schnirring]
June 3, 2016
CIDRAP – Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy
Category B bioterrorism pathogens are the second highest priority organisms/biological agents. They are moderately easy to disseminate, result in moderate morbidity rates and low mortality rates and require specific enhancements for diagnostic capacity and enhanced disease surveillance
These pathogens include Food safety threats: (Salmonella species, E coli O157:H7, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus). Category B agents are bacteria and viruses that cause only mild disease to humans, or are difficult to contract via aerosol in a lab setting,.