Ohio officials report that eight separate salmonella illnesses in Ohio are part of a multistate outbreak associated with chicks and/or ducklings purchased this year at agricultural supply stores sourced from an Ohio hatchery. These birds were sold at numerous agricultural outlets across the state, and with these confirmed reports of salmonella infections, health officials are encouraging any purchaser of baby chicks this year to use caution in their handling and care.
The Ohio Department of Agriculture emphasized that the outbreak is not related to handling or consuming eggs, and that this is not a food-related outbreak.
The eight ill individuals range in age from 3 months to 76 years. Specimens obtained from chicks belonging to one of the Ohio cases yielded the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona.
The Ohio Departments of Health and Agriculture are working with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, USDA's National Poultry Improvement Plan, and Ohio's local health departments in responding to the outbreak.
"We encourage all agricultural supply stores that sell chickens and ducklings to post information on safe handling techniques of these birds," said Ohio Agriculture Director James Zehringer. "CDC worked with the poultry industry and state agencies to offer a consumer information poster which can be downloaded from the CDC, ODH or from the Ohio Department of Agriculture."
Nationwide, a majority of individuals with available information reported exposure to chicks and/or ducklings purchased at different locations of a national agricultural feed store that reported obtaining their chicks and ducklings from Ohio-based Mt. Healthy Hatchery. Both businesses have been working with state and federal officials to investigate the outbreak and to stop additional individuals from becoming ill. Other companies may have also received and distributed infected chicks and ducklings.
"Although foodborne infections have decreased by nearly one-fourth in the past 15 years, more than one million people in this country become ill from Salmonella each year," CDC Director Thomas R. Frieden said. "Salmonella accounts for about half of the hospitalizations and deaths among the nine foodborne illnesses CDC tracks. Continued investments are essential to detect, investigate, and stop outbreaks promptly in order to protect our food supply."