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Kids handling spring chicks? Beware of Salmonella.

Chung Sung-Jun, Getty Images

Spring chicks become very popular each Easter.

Many children see them or handle them in feed or pet stores. Some families bring spring chicks home and raise them.

The Michigan Department of Agriculture reminds us of the risks of handling live poultry.

“Live poultry, especially baby poultry, can carry Salmonella germs, so it’s important to not keep them in the house and to wash your hands immediately after touching poultry or anything in the area where they live or roam,” said Dr. Matthew Davis, Chief Medical Executive with the Michigan Department of Community Health.

Salmonella can make people sick with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and/or abdominal cramps lasting 4-7 days or more.  People should always assume baby chicks carry Salmonella and should follow these recommendations to protect themselves and others:

  1. Children younger than five-years-of-age, older adults, or people with weak immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry because they are more likely to become severely ill.
  2. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
  3. Use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  4. Chicks should have a heat lamp and should be kept in a barn or garage, in a draft-free cage that keeps predators out.
  5. Always keep poultry away from areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, or outdoor patios.
  6. Do not kiss the chicks
  7. Do not touch your mouth, smoke, eat, or drink – after handling live poultry.
  8. Clean all equipment such as cages, feed, water containers and other materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house.

Learn more about contact with live poultry. 

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