CDC: Backyard poultry source of salmonella outbreak

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — As if we’re not worried enough over coronavirus now the CDC reports we’re seeing an outbreak of salmonella across the country.

Feeders supply stores say the pandemic has a lot of people panic-buying chickens for eggs. At least one food item supply they can control.

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CDC says 97 people have been infected with salmonella in 28 states. Kentucky is one of them.

“Kentucky has nine people who are sick. I think we’re tied with California for the highest number of sick people in any one state,” says UK Poultry Extension Project Manager Dr. Jacquie Jacob.

The CDC says evidence shows backyard poultry is likely the source.

Jacob says an outbreak is typical this time of year when chickens start to lay eggs. But the demand is still higher than usual.

“According to the feed stores the numbers are up,” says Jacob.

Jacob says it’s important first-time backyard poultry owners do their research, how to handle the chickens and eggs safely, always washing hands after contact, even with equipment used with chicks, and supervising kids around them.

“Once they handle the chickens there’s always the potential for salmonella on their hands and it takes to your mouth to suck their thumb or whatever, then they could get sick,” says Jacob.

The CDC says 30% of those sick are children under the age 5.

“The main thing to remember is chicken are livestock. We like to make pets out of them, says Jacob.

Jacob says salmonella is in the intestines so even a clean, well-maintained poultry house still has the possibility of contamination.

Symptoms include diarrhea and stomach cramps.

UK has resources to help you safely raise backyard poultry. You can find those here.

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Christy Bollinger joined the ABC 36 news team as a reporter in March 2018. Christy comes from a little western Kentucky town called Cadiz. She graduated from Western Kentucky University in May 2017 with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and Criminology. Christy is thrilled to be working at her dream job in her home state. She is passionate about storytelling and you can see her weekdays on ABC 36 News at 5 and 6 p.m. She's covered everything from visits from the sitting president and vice president, to high-profile murder cases. When not chasing stories, Christy loves nothing more than being at the beach and says life is just better with sand between your toes and waves crashing at your feet. She is also a big animal lover. She's a fur momma and her mini-Australian Shepherd, Milly, standard Australian Shepherd, Bennie, and her Maine Coon, Cheeto, are the loves of her life. Christy encourages you to send her any story ideas you may have. Find her on Facebook at Christy Bollinger ABC 36, tweet her @ChristyB_news, or email her at CBollinger@wtvq.com.