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DHS news release

March 24, 2004


Contact: Bonnie Widerburg (503) 731-4180
Technical contact: Emilio DeBess (503) 731-4024


Baby chicks may bear Salmonella infection



As spring approaches, public health officials in the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) are urging parents to protect their children from potential salmonella infection caused by handling baby chicks.


Since 1996, baby chicks have been connected with seven Oregon disease outbreaks affecting at least 71 people, a third or more of them children, said Emilio DeBess, DVM, public health veterinarian at DHS.


"Chicks, ducklings and other fowl often carry salmonella bacteria," DeBess said. "They may not be appropriate gifts for children younger than 5 or for persons with weakened immune systems because they are more susceptible to infection."


Infections can cause diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever symptoms lasting three to seven days, he said. Steps for preventing infection include thinking twice about giving baby birds to children; always washing hands thoroughly after handling any animal or coming in contact with animal waste; keeping chicks in an appropriate outdoor area; and never nuzzling or kissing chicks.


More information about baby chicks and Salmonella may be found at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Web site.