Source of Article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/22/AR2009012203428.html
By Steven Reinberg
22 (HealthDay News) -- While peanut butter
contaminated with salmonella has dominated the headlines recently,
The Jan. 23
issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity
and Mortality Weekly Report details two different outbreaks of salmonella
The first outbreak was identified in September 2007 by the North Dakota Department of Health. Those stricken with the bacterial infection included three siblings, aged 1, 3 and 7. All three developed diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps, and were hospitalized for eight to 10 days.
All told, an
estimated 65 people -- 60 percent of them adults -- were sickened in
The second outbreak began in the spring of 2007, and 70 percent of
the infections were among children -- average age 5 -- who handled baby
chicks and ducklings bought as Easter pets. A total of 64 people in 23 states
fell ill. The infection was traced to a
"Live poultry is a source of human salmonella infections," said Dr. Umid Sharapov, a CDC medical epidemiologist and co-author of the report. "Persons should wash their hands with soap and water after handling live poultry. Children younger than 5 should not be allowed to handle baby chicks."
estimates that there are 1.5 million cases of salmonella poisoning each year
James Imperato, dean and Distinguished Service
Professor of the Graduate Program in Public Health at
"Human salmonella infections due to contact with poultry are not uncommon," Imperato said. "Poultry can be healthy carriers of salmonella and not exhibit any apparent illness."
The risks are especially high for young children who come into contact with baby chicks and ducklings purchased as pets by parents at Easter time, he said.
Infectious disease expert Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine, said he thinks the way poultry is raised contributes to the high prevalence of salmonella in these birds.
"I am aghast at how we allow our poultry to be raised in squalor," he said. "The conditions they are in -- they are living in their own poop -- cause salmonella to thrive."
"This article points out the ease with which salmonella spreads from live poultry to humans," Siegel added. "This is a reminder that our poultry population is infested with salmonella."
Salmonella, as well as other health threats, can be transmitted by many other pets, including exotic ones.
The number of
exotic animals in the
In 2003, a human monkey pox outbreak was traced back to imported African Gambian rats that had infected prairie dogs sold as pets. And small pet turtles were responsible for 103 cases of salmonella infection in the second half of last year, mostly among young children, the report found.
For more on salmonella, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Umid Sharapov, M.D., medical epidemiologist, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Marc Siegel, M.D., associate professor, medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; Pascal James Imperato, M.D., M.P.H.& T.M., Dean and Distinguished Service Professor, Graduate Program in Public Health, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Brooklyn, N.Y.; Jan. 23, 2009, CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report
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