Easter chicks and salmonella
Posted: March 30th, 2010 - 8:32am
Source: Worms & Germs Blog
It's encouraging to see the number of press reports warning people not to bring home baby chicks or ducklings as Easter presents for kids. It's encouraging because of the potential risk of salmonellosis that is associated with contact with young chicks and ducks, particularly among young children. Young kids are at high risk for getting Salmonella from chicks and ducklings, and at higher risk of developing serious infections. They also tend to be at higher risk for exposure because of the close nature of contact that they often have with pets. Add close contact and increased susceptibility to the generally low level of hygiene associated with pet contact, and you have a perfect recipe for sick kids.
Salmonella carriage is an ever-present concern with chicks and duckings. It doesn't matter how they were raised or where they came from. You can never know by looking it it whether a baby bird is shedding Salmonella, and you should assume that they all are to be on the safe side.
The CDC has some basic advice on the topic. The key points are:
Never buy chicks or ducklings on a whim. If in doubt, buy a stuffed animal.
Never buy chicks or ducklings for kids under 5 years of age or people with compromised immune systems. These individuals should not have any contact with chicks or ducklings.
Don't let these animals roam freely around the house. They're not house trained and can contaminate the household environment.
Always wash your hands thoroughly after contact with them.
Don't eat around chicks and ducklings, since it increasing the chance of inadvertently ingesting Salmonella.
Baby chicks and ducks don't make good pets because of the Salmonella risk. They also grow up, and become larger, messier, and noisier birds that many people are not prepared to take care of. Don't do it unless you have a low risk household, can properly implement measures to reduce the risk of exposure and have a plan to properly take care of the birds when they get older.