MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - It's finally springtime and Easter is right around the corner. That means families around the state will soon be getting outdoors for fun activities like egg hunts and pictures of their little ones holding adorable chicks and ducklings.
While fun is encouraged, there are also some precautions that should be taken, especially when it comes to the chicks and ducklings, the Alabama Department of Public Health says.
What could go wrong with cute and fluffy duckies? They can increase the risk of gastrointestinal illnesses, such as salmonellosis and campylobacteriosis, nasty illnesses often associated with live poultry contact in backyard flocks.
It's common for chicks and ducklings to carry these bacteria in their droppings and on their bodies, even when they appear to be healthy. Salmonella and Campylobacter cause gastrointestinal illness, though those at risk of severe illness include children under the age of 5 years, older adults and individuals with weakened immune systems.
Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps and usually last 4-7 days.
"The best way to prevent illness is to avoid contact when possible, and wash hands frequently and properly when contact is made," says Sherri Davidson, ADPH interim state epidemiologist.
ADPH encourages people to take the following steps to protect against gastrointestinal illnesses resulting from live poultry contact:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or products, or cleaning equipment used for live poultry care.
- Do not snuggle or kiss baby chicks, ducklings or other live poultry.
- Do not let live poultry live inside the residence or stay where foods are prepared, served or stored.
- Do not let children under the age of 5 years handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other live poultry without adult supervision.
- Leave shoes and clothes outside after dealing with backyard flocks, especially if in contact with droppings.
- Purchase poultry from hatcheries that participate in the USDA-NPIP, a program committed to reduce Salmonella infection in baby poultry while in hatcheries.