Now is the time to remind people about the risk of Salmonella infection from handling live baby chicks, often purchased as Easter presents. There has already been one case of salmonellosis in a Maine child in 2011 after contact with baby chicks that were kept inside.
Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps and can be life-threatening in infants, children under five years of age, and in people with weakened immune systems. The stress of hatching and shipping many chicks at one time increases the chance that the chicks will become infected and shed bacteria. Baby chicks do not usually seem sick even when they are infected.
What can parents do to keep children safe?
It is best if infants and children under five do not touch chicks. If they do, take the following steps to lower the spread of bacteria:
· Supervise children while playing with baby chicks.
· Do not allow children to kiss or put hands or other objects (pacifiers, toys, bottles) in their mouths after handling chicks.
· Pacifiers, toys, bottles, or other objects should not touch the baby chicks or their living environment.
· Wash children’s hands well with plenty of running water and soap after contact with chicks.
· Keep chicks away from food handling areas.
· Do not eat or drink while interacting with baby chicks or their environment.
· If baby chicks are kept inside due to cold weather, keep them away from living spaces.
If your child has had contact with baby chicks and gets diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, contact your healthcare provider.
For more information: www.cdc.gov/healthypets/easter_chicks.htm or call 1-800-821-5821.