CDC: Backyard chickens lead to Salmonella outbreak

(WHAM photo)

Clifton Springs, N.Y. – Jeffery Ball, owner of The Poultry Hatchery, gets up by 6 a.m. every morning to check on his animals and clean the chicken coops. It’s the first of three times they will be cleaned during the day.

“That’s my choice,” said Ball. “Happy, healthy chickens; happy, healthy eggs. It’s really personal preference with how far and extreme you go with the cleaning, but of course the more you clean, only the healthier they can be.”

Ball sells his chicks and chickens across the country. In the last several years, he has seen an increase of people buying poultry to raise in their backyards.

“It’s boomed a lot. You see so many families getting involved, it teaches kids responsibility, you get fresh eggs – you know where your food comes from,” said Ball.

With the increase in backyard chickens comes an increase in people getting sick from Salmonella. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 900 people have gotten sick with Salmonella since the beginning of the year, 29 of them in New York. But according to local health departments, none have been in our area.

Ball says he educates the people who buy his chickens and other poultry to hopefully keep those around the birds healthy.

“It’s mostly proper hand sanitation: Washing your hands, washing your equipment,” said Ball. “You’ve got to remember, they walk around on their feet, and their feet, when you pick them up, they typically go in your hand first, and that’s got fecal matter on it. A lot of people, they touch the door handles, they touch other equipment, they might grab their cell phone.”

Care for the eggs is also important.

The CDC recommends collecting eggs often, throwing away any with cracks and washing your hands after handling the eggs. Washing eggs is not recommended because cold water can put bacteria into the egg.

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