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April 29, 2005


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180; cell phone (503) 572-7689


Technical contacts: Emilio DeBess, D.V.M. (503) 731-4024
Don Hansen, D.V.M., Oregon Dept. Agriculture (503) 986-4680


Baby chicks identified as source of Salmonella outbreak

Five Oregon cases of Salmonella have been identified by public health officials, with the source of the outbreak being traced to baby chicks from a Washington hatchery.


Residents in the states of Washington and Idaho have also been affected.


Some people who were infected reported that they did not handle chicks directly, but had worked or passed through rooms where chicks were kept. Environments can be easily contaminated from bacteria in animal wastes, according to Emilio DeBess, DHS public health veterinarian.


The first cases of Salmonella Ohio—a rare serotype—were identified on April 11, with the most recent case reported on April 26, DeBess said. Public health officials warn that more cases could surface.


Baby chicks, usually sold by mail order or in feed stores, have been repeatedly identified as the source of salmonellosis outbreaks.


Thorough hand washing with soap and warm water is the most important way to prevent Salmonella or other infections, DeBess said. He also recommends that children be supervised so they do not Many healthy animals may harbor bacteria that are harmful to humans. nuzzle or kiss chicks or other fowl.


Salmonellosis is a bacterial infection that can cause severe diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps and chills. People are most often infected by eating food or drinking water contaminated with Salmonella or by contact with infected people or animals. Animals often infected with Salmonella include turtles, iguanas, other reptiles, cattle, chicks, ducklings and other birds.


Oregon, Washington, and Idaho public health officials have worked collaboratively to share information on this outbreak.