Salmonella outbreak toll rises
A salmonella outbreak linked to a Springfield Township hatchery now has made 126 people ill in 26 states, federal officials say.
About 35 percent of the ill people were hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
Federal officials said trace-back investigations of live chicks, ducklings and other live poultry, some of which were likely sold as pets around the Easter holiday, have identified Mount Healthy Hatcheries as the source of the animals.
The same mail-order hatchery was also associated with Salmonella Infantis andSalmonella Newport outbreaks linked to live poultry in 2012 and 2013.
In the current outbreak, patients began reporting symptoms between Feb. 4 and April 21. The patients range in age from younger than one year to 95 years. Thirty-nine percent of patients are 10 years old or younger.
Thirteen of the cases are in Ohio, eight in Kentucky and two in Indiana.
Mount Healthy Hatcheries sells birds to many different retailers. Ninety percent of 58 ill persons with available purchase information reported purchasing live poultry from seven different feed or farm store companies in multiple states.
In a statement on its website, the hatchery at 9839 Winton Road says that it “shares the concerns of the public about reports of recent illnesses. We are working closely with authorities at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and CDC as they continue their investigation into multiple Salmonella outbreaks.
“It is important to note that although some CDC data suggests a link to chicks from our hatcheries, the vast majority of chicks we ship are not associated with this outbreak,” the statement continues. The company said it sells “thousands of chicks each week to customers, and our commitment is to provide safe, healthy chicks at all times.”
In addition to working with health officials, the company said it has “suspended business relationships with our largest outside supplier of eggs and chicks while the investigation continues.”
Most people infected with the salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. In some cases, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.
In some cases, the infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and can be fatal unless the patient is treated promptly with antibiotics. Children younger than 5 years, older adults and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness from salmonella.
About 42,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in the United States. But the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that “because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be 29 or more times greater.”
To prevent the illness, health officials recommend not buying poultry as pets, not keeping such animals in your house and wash your hands frequently if you touch live poultry or items that come from pens and yards where they live.