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4/14/2014

Giving chicks and ducklings to children at Easter can spread salmonella

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Dr. Alan Melnick, Public Health
Phone: (360) 397-8412
alan.melnick@clark.wa.gov

Vancouver, WA — Chicks and ducklings may be irresistible symbols of spring, but playing with young birds could lead to infection from Salmonella bacteria.

Children younger than five are especially susceptible to infection because their immune systems are still developing. Others at increased risk include the elderly, people with sickle-cell disease or HIV/AIDS, and people whose immune systems are compromised, said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County Health Officer.

“Young birds should not be given as pets. In addition to the Salmonella risk, live chicks and ducklings require ongoing care that many people aren’t prepared for,” he said. “We recommend giving stuffed animals or taking a trip to the zoo instead.”

People who touch a chick or duckling or the area around it should wash their hands right away. Birds should be kept away from food and drink.

Salmonella can cause infections that can result in diarrhea, fever, stomach pain and nausea. Sometimes vomiting starts six to 72 hours after ingesting the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most persons recover without treatment. Severe cases may require hospitalization and can occasionally result in death.

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