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MDCH Reminds Michigan Residents about Salmonella Risks when Handling Live Poultry

It’s spring, the season when live baby poultry arrive in local feed and agricultural supply stores.  The Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) is reminding the public that live baby poultry such as chicks, ducklings, goslings and turkey poults can be a source of human Salmonella infections, especially for children. 


“Live poultry, especially baby poultry, can carry Salmonella germs so it’s important to wash your hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive at the MDCH. “Live poultry can carry Salmonella and still appear healthy and clean so it’s important to thoroughly wash hands after touching or handling them.” 

Salmonella can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting 4- 7 days or more.  Since 1990, more than 45 outbreaks of human Salmonella infections associated with live poultry nationally have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), resulting in 1,367 confirmed human illnesses, 204 hospitalizations, and four deaths.  In 2012 alone, eight outbreaks were traced to contact with live poultry, the most in any year to date.  Many of these illnesses are in young children as they are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items in their mouths.


Raising back yard poultry in Michigan is becoming more common. You can reduce your risk of Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry by taking a few simple precautions:      


  • Children younger than 5 years of age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Don't snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers, should be cleaned outside the house.
  • Don't bring live poultry inside the house. Keep live poultry out of areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens or outdoor patios.
  • Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Remember to wash hands after feeding poultry or handling any animal feed.


For residents who keep live poultry, more information can be found online at For more information about Salmonella and live poultry, visit