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Baby Birds and Salmonella

Did you know baby birds can carry Salmonella?

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Contact with live poultry – like chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese and turkeys – can be a source of human Salmonella infections. Since the 1990s, there have been 45 reported Salmonella outbreaks linked to live poultry in the United States.

Animals can provide important opportunities for entertainment and learning. However, there is also a risk of getting hurt or sick from contact with animals. Live baby poultry can carry Salmonella, which are harmful germs. After you touch a baby bird or anything in the area where they live and roam, WASH YOUR HANDS, so you don’t get sick. Each spring, some children become infected with Salmonella, but it is important to remember that illness can occur from these baby birds or adult birds at any time of the year.

Chick handling

Fact sheet from CDC

Salmonella and baby poultry handling (pdf) - English

Salmonella cuando toca patitos (pdf) - Español

How to reduce your risk


  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  • Clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers.


  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years of age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Don't snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live baby poultry.
  • Don't let live baby poultry inside the house, in bathrooms, or especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
  • Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Don't give live baby poultry as gifts to young children.


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