Floridians Advised To Handle Chicks, Ducklings Safely

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

Springtime is the season for chicks and ducklings. While raising poultry can be an enjoyable experience, it is important that owners take steps to help keep themselves and others healthy.

Handling chicks and ducklings poses a potential health risk of Salmonella. Every year, approximately 5,000 cases of salmonellosis are reported in Florida. Salmonella are a common cause of food-borne illness that can also be spread to people by direct contact with animals that carry the bacteria. Chicks, ducklings and other birds can have Salmonella on their bodies even when they are healthy and appear clean. Children are particularly at risk of illness because they are less likely to wash their hands and have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact than adults.

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) recommends these steps to protect against illness from Salmonella:

* Ensure that you and your children wash your hands with soap and warm water immediately after touching chicks, ducklings and other birds


* Chicks and ducklings are not appropriate pets for children under five years old

* Do not nuzzle or kiss chicks and ducklings

* Keep chicks and ducklings in a designated area away from the kitchen and family living spaces

* Never handle baby birds or other animals while you or your children are eating

* Do not use the kitchen sink to clean cages or feed and water containers

Symptoms of Salmonella include diarrhea, fever and stomach pain that start one to three days after the bacteria are ingested. These symptoms usually resolve after one week. Other possible symptoms are nausea, chills, headaches or a general achy feeling. Young children, the elderly and other immunocompromised persons may have a more severe infection. Occasionally, infections are so severe that people should see a doctor or be hospitalized.