CDC warns about backyard chickens and salmonella

As of June 29, 40 states have reported a total of 181 people who have been infected with strains of salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The outbreak is from chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry.

As a result, on July 1, the CDC issued guidelines for backyard flock owners.

"We do not recommend snuggling or kissing the birds or touching them to your mouth," Megin Nichols, DVM, MPH, DACVPM, with the CDC told National Public Radio (NPR), "because that is certainly one way people become infected with salmonella." She also stated that birds don't belong in the house.

In other words, backyard birds are not like family dogs, no matter how much owners love them. And these days, it seems to be a lot.

“Backyard chickens are extremely popular right now,” Peter G. Fisher, DVM, Dipl. ABVP (Exotic Companion Mammal), and owner of AAHA-accredited Pet Care Veterinary Hospital, told NEWStat. “Lectures on this topic are at overflow capacity.

“Clients are very fond of these pets and in many instances need to be educated on proper chicken husbandry, including the zoonotic potential of salmonella."

If your practice is considering treating backyard birds, there are some key things to consider, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). That includes understanding the legalities involved with such treatments, being aware of the credentials required, and educating yourself in avian/poultry medicine.

Fisher recommends Backyard Poultry Medicine and Surgery: A Guide for Veterinary Practitioners (John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2015).

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