More than 100 people have been impacted in a salmonella outbreak that may have originated at the Privett Hatchery in New Mexico, CBS News reports. On August 19, the New Mexico Department of Health released a statement that a strain of Salmonella found in a baby duck pen at the hatchery matches the strain of Salmonella that is currently impacting people nationwide. More than 60 percent of those impacted are under the age of ten. No deaths have been reported as a result of this recent outbreak, but 51 people have been hospitalized.
Ironically, Privett Hatchery has been an innovator for reducing salmonella in baby chicks and ducks in the past. The hatchery supplies live baby poultry, including chicks and ducklings, to feed stores and mail customers across the nation.
Salmonella is a bacteria that causes an infection lasting about a week, with symptoms like fever and diarrhea. If the infection spreads into the bloodstream, however, the young and elderly can be at risk of more serious health complications.
The disease likely spread during the handling of the birds. In a family household, for example, the parents could have either handled the birds outside and not washed their hands properly or have kept the birds inside. Even if the birds are sick they might not show signs, the health department cautions, and the bacteria could still be in their droppings. The health department recommends that parents not keep live poultry in the house with young children.
Privett Hatchery has taken multiple steps to prevent the outbreak from continuing or occurring again, including removing from sale poultry from the affected pen, giving a salmonella vaccine to all birds at the hatchery, decontaminating all eggs before they enter the hatchery and implementing cleaning and disinfection protocols, according to the health department.
In a statement published on their website, they apologize for potentially being a source of the outbreak and explain that they are cooperating with health department officials to decontaminate all poultry at the facility.
“Our top priority is providing safe, healthy poultry to our customers. We will continue to work with our suppliers to ensure we can do so,” Privett Hatchery states. “As always, we will focus on our responsibility to educate consumers on proper care and handling of the birds. Please remember, chicks purchased from any hatchery should be considered farm animals –not pets- and should be treated as such.”
The CDC recommends keeping birds outside and preventing contact between baby poultry and children under the age of five because of their weaker immune systems. They also emphasize washing hands thoroughly after handling poultry, and using hand sanitizer until you can get to soap and water.