CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Urban chickens are being blamed by the Centers for Disease Control for a recent outbreak of salmonella. Cleveland 19 spoke to an expert on how to keep your family safe.
The CDC issued an alert about the most recent outbreak. There have been nearly 400 cases of salmonella, hospitalizing 71 people, in 47 states from January through the middle of May. Ohio tops the list for the highest number of cases.
Angela Cavotta is the owner of Cavotta's Garden Center in Cleveland.
"I raise chickens because I have a garden center and people love to come and see the chickens," said Cavotta.
She has several chickens at her urban store, and said she's never had a problem with anyone getting sick.
Veterinarian Bogdan Klinkosz said that having urban chickens isn't dangerous, but people need to take precautions. Klinkosz recommends potential farmers buy chickens from a business certified by the National Poultry Improvement Plan. Klinkosz said those farms check for diseases like salmonella.
He said that some chickens may just be salmonella carriers, others could pick the bug up just from being outside and around rodents and lizards.
"When you have chickens in the backyard they roam around, because everybody tells you they eat grass, they have sun exposure, they do better, the
eggs are better. Unfortunately, the freedom doesn't come for free," said Klinkosz.
He said it's important for urban farmers to not just leave food laying around that could attract rodents and other pests which could cause disease. He also said it's important for chicken owners to change water frequently, change nesting material at least twice a week, and collect eggs twice a day.
Most importantly, anyone who comes in contact with a live chicken should wash their hands immediately after with soap and water. Experts also recommend that young children, older people, or those with compromised immune systems not come into contact with chickens just in case.
Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, which set in 12 to 72 hours after infection.
The illness can last four to seven days.
So far, no reports of the illness resulting in deaths, but cases associated with live poultry have put 71 people in the hospital in the US this year, according to the CDC.
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