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Backyard Chickens Behind Big Salmonella Outbreak

Klara Kim

State Health officials are warning about handling ‘live’ chickens in light of an ongoing, national Salmonella outbreak. Thirty-two Texans have become ill in what health officials say is the largest ever Salmonella outbreak linked to live birds.

More than 300 people in 37 states have been sickened.

Health officials warn that the popularity of backyard chickens is putting more people are at risk of contracting Salmonella. And they urge strict attention to hygiene.

  • Wash hands with soap and water immediately after handling chickens
  • Don’t allow children under five, elderly, or people with weakened immune systems to handle chicks or live poultry.
  • Keep birds away from people’s faces and mouths.
  • After caring for chickens, change shoes before entering the home.

Salmonella bacteria causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.  Most people recover in four to seven days, but the young, elderly and those with compromised immune systems are more at risk for serious illness, hospitalization, and even death.

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.