Another Salmonella outbreak linked to mail-order chicks, ducklings

Jun 25, 2012 (CIDRAP News) – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with public health and agriculture officials in several states, is investigating a Salmonella Montevideo outbreak linked to chicks and ducklings from a Missouri company's mail-order hatchery.

The outbreak is the fourth Salmonella outbreak linked to mail-order chicks and ducklings to surface since 2011.

In a statement today the CDC said it has received reports of 66 illnesses in 20 states, about half of the cases in Kansas and Missouri. Sixteen of the patients were hospitalized.

One death was reported, but the Salmonella infection wasn't considered a contributing factor. The CDC said about 35% of the sick people are children age 10 or younger.

For cases reported so far, illness onsets began between Feb 28 and Jun 6.

Trace-back, epidemiologic, and lab investigations have linked illnesses to chicks and ducklings from Estes Hatchery in Springfield, Mo. Thirty of 36 sick patients with purchase information had reported buying live baby poultry from various locations of 13 different agricultural feed store companies in multiple states. Five more purchased baby poultry directly from mail-order hatcheries.

Sick patients reported buying the poultry for backyard flocks to produce for eggs or meat or to keep as pets. State health department testing of chick samples from sick patients' homes in California, Kentucky, Missouri, and Vermont yielded the outbreak strain.

Health officials are using PulseNet, the CDC's national subtyping network, to identify more cases that may be part of the outbreak. The CDC said the hatchery owners are cooperating with the investigation.

Another Salmonella outbreak involving chicks and ducklings from a different mail-order hatchery in Ohio has so far sickened 123 people from 25 states, according to a Jun 7 CDC update. That outbreak involved three different Salmonella strains: Infantis, Newport, and Lille.

Last year, the CDC and its partners linked two Salmonella outbreaks to chicks and ducklings to the same mail-order hatchery in Ohio. The outbreaks involved two different outbreaks strains. The Salmonella Altona outbreak sickened 68 patients in 20 states, and the Salmonella Johannesburg outbreak sickened 28 patients in 15 states.

The CDC has said that contact with live poultry poses a risk of Salmonella infections. It has urged mail-order hatcheries, agricultural feed stores, and others who sell or display chicks or ducklings to provide health information for owners and at the point of purchase for potential buyers.

See also:

Jun 25 CDC outbreak announcement

Jun 7 CDC outbreak update

Oct 6, 2011, CDC final report on two multistate Salmonella outbreaks

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