Death in Tennessee linked to contact with backyard poultry

WASHINGTON (WATE) – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with public health officials in several states are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infections linked to contact with backyard poultry like chickens, ducks, turkeys or any other wild bird.

The CDC reported that more than 200 cases in 38 states led to the hospitalization of 27 people.

In Tennessee, six cases of Salmonella and one death linked to contact with backyard poultry have been reported.

One in four sick people is a child under the age of five. Children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe disease, the CDC said.

“Backyard poultry, such as chickens and ducks, can carry Salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean,” according to the CDC. “These germs can easily spread to anything in areas where poultry live and roam.”

The CDC said the actual number of sick people is likely much higher than reported, as many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella.

Authorities recommend people exercise caution when touching backyard poultry and touching themselves near their mouths or food to avoid accidentally swallowing Salmonella bacteria.

Here are the CDC’s steps for staying healthy while handling birds:

  • Always wash your hands for 20 seconds after touching birds, their supplies, or picking up eggs.
  • Use a dedicated pair of shoes or boots for your chicken coop and do not wear them inside your home.
  • Keep birds and supplies outside the house to avoid spreading germs in your home.
  • Do not let children under five touch birds (including chicks and ducklings) or anything in the area where the birds live and roam. This helps protect young children from illness because their immune systems are still developing, are more likely to put objects in their mouths, or not wash their hands thoroughly.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria. Most people recover without treatment and the illness usually lasts 4-7 days.

The investigation into these cases is still active. For more information on CDC reports, visit

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