Montana part of multi-state outbreak linked to live poultry

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) confirmed today that 14 Montanans in 11 counties have been diagnosed this spring with Salmonella after coming in contact with live poultry.

However, this outbreak is not unique to Montana. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 372 people in 47 states have become ill and 71 were hospitalized since the outbreak began earlier this year.

More than one third of the Montana cases were children under 10 years old and three adults were hospitalized for their illness. Those infected are from the counties of Cascade, Gallatin, Glacier, Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, Mineral, Missoula, Powder River, Ravalli, Roosevelt and Yellowstone.

In Montana, people associated with the outbreak have reported obtaining live baby poultry, e.g., chicks and ducklings, from feed supply stores and relatives.

State health officials say that Salmonella is an organism that healthy poultry can carry without making them ill, but may cause severe diarrhea and abdominal pain to humans which can lead to dehydration. Sometimes people require hospitalization to recover.

The DPHHS and the Department of Livestock (DOL) are asking Montanans to handle poultry responsibly. DOL Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski said, “When caring for backyard flocks, these simple prevention measures will help to keep your families healthy and enjoying the benefits of raising animals.”

Wash your hands after handling animals
Avoid touching your mouth after animal contact
Don’t eat or drink around animals
Don’t bring poultry into the house
Supervise small children around animals
Don’t cuddle or kiss chicks

“Raising your own flock can be a rewarding and fun experience, but consider the risk when purchasing poultry,” DPHHS epidemiologist Dana Fejes said.

Young children and persons with weakened immune systems, such as women who are pregnant, the elderly, and those with chronic disease, are at greatest risk for complications from infection.

“Safe poultry handling is a way to prevent illnesses and keep our children and communities healthy,” Fejes stressed.

Please visit www.dphhs.mt.gov for guidance and more information.

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