State officials report that eight separate Salmonella illnesses in Ohio are part of a multistate outbreak associated with chicks and/or ducklings purchased this year at agricultural supply stores sourced from an Ohio hatchery. These birds were sold at numerous agricultural outlets across the state and with these confirmed reports of Salmonella infections health officials are encouraging any purchaser of baby chicks this year to use caution in their handling and care.
The eight ill individuals range in age from 3 months to 76 years and live in Ashtabula, Columbiana, Franklin, Hamilton, Jefferson, Licking, Medina and Wood counties. Specimens obtained from chicks belonging to one of the Ohio cases yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona.
"I encourage anyone who purchases baby chickens or ducklings to use caution when handling the birds and to always thoroughly wash their hands after touching them, "said ODH Director Ted Wymyslo, M.D.
The Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Poultry Improvement Plan, and Ohio's local health departments in responding to the outbreak.
"We encourage all agricultural supply stores that sell chickens and ducklings to post information on safe handling techniques of these birds," said Ohio Agriculture Director James Zehringer. "The CDC worked with the poultry industry and state agencies to offer a consumer information poster which can be downloaded from the CDC, ODH or from the Ohio Department of Agriculture."
Nationwide, a majority of individuals with available information reported exposure to chicks and/or ducklings purchased at different locations of a national agricultural feed store that reported obtaining their chicks and ducklings from an Ohio based company, Mt. Healthy Hatchery. Both businesses have been working with state and federal officials to investigate the outbreak and to stop additional individuals from becoming ill. Other companies may have also received and distributed infected chicks and ducklings.
The CDC has investigated multiple Salmonella outbreaks associated with live chicks and ducklings. There have been 30 such outbreaks since the 1990s.
It is important to remember that healthy, live chicks, ducklings and other poultry are potentially infected with Salmonella. The Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture encourage Ohioans to follow these precautions.
Advice to Consumers