A salmonella outbreak in Oklahoma resulted in the death of one person and the hospitalization of 86 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Wednesday. As of June 23, 465 individuals from 42 different states have been infected with one of the strains of salmonella.

The updated CDC report on the latest outbreak information revealed the following:

  • 368 individuals were infected since May 20
  • Children younger than five years of age comprised 31% of the infected
  • Backyard poultry including chicks and ducklings were the likely source
  • 79% of infected people reported contact with ducklings and chicks
  • Individuals also reported obtaining chicks and ducklings from several sources such as agricultural stores, hatcheries, and websites

Backyard flocks have become a popular hobby these days, with people often saying they want to raise the birds because they want to know the source of their food, CNN reported.

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a nationwide spike in the order for birds from hatcheries. While the hobby can be fun as well as educational, people have to be aware of ways to safely manage these animals as it can be different from raising dogs or cats.

The CDC sends out regular warnings pertaining to salmonella risks from backyard flocks and there have been over a dozen such outbreaks associated with poultry since 2011.

Poultry carry salmonella in their digestive tracts. The bacteria enter their droppings and onto their eggs and feathers. While it doesn’t affect the chicken or other poultry in any way, it can cause stomach cramps, diarrhea, and other serious symptoms in human beings.

The CDC’s advice to backyard flock owners:

  1. Practice hand hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water, or use sanitizers after handling poultry
  2. Don’t let children be unsupervised around the birds
  3. Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry and then touch the face or mouth
  4. Don’t let poultry around areas where food is prepared and don’t eat where they live or roam
  5. Clean the eggs that contain dirt and debris, refrigerate them after collection and ensure the yolk and white are completely cooked before eating.