Hundreds of people have been infected with salmonella in multiple recent outbreaks across the United States.
The CDC has identified seven separate strains of the bacteria, each spreading across multiple states, according to ABC News. At least 324 individuals have been infected in 35 states. All the known illnesses began in 2016.
There have been 66 people hospitalized, reports the CDC. Over a quarter of the infected people were 5 years old or younger. One death was reported, but the CDC does not consider salmonella to have been a contributing factor in the death.
The CDC reports that contact with live poultry is the primary source of infection in 2016’s outbreaks – 91% of those interviewed said they had contact with live poultry in the week leading up to their symptoms.
Most of these people, however, were not professional farmers. The CDC’s investigation revealed that the birds, mostly chicks and ducklings, were owned by individuals in “backyard flocks” for fun, education, or to keep as pets.
The CDC warns that birds can carry illnesses “even when they appear healthy and clean.” It recommends hand washing immediately after contact and keeping live poultry out of houses and away from young children, who are easily infected.
The CDC says it expects the infections to continue to spread, especially from flock owners who aren’t aware of the safety risks.
Other sources of outbreaks besides backyard flocks have been identified by state health agencies. In March of 2016, Ohio health officials linked a salmonella outbreak to shell eggs, later recalled by Kenneth Miller Farms, according to Food Safety News. The FDA linked a separate outbreak from the previous December to Raw Meal, a nutrition supplement powder.