Salmonellosis – United States

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are evaluating an outbreak of salmonella infections in 19 people that could be associated with sick or dead birds.

Infections have occurred in 8 states including California, Tennessee, and New Hampshire, and eight people required hospitalization. Scientists through laboratory tests identified that feces-contaminated bird seeds in a birdfeeder responsible for the outbreak.

Birds are often carriers of bacteria such as salmonella and can be transmitted from birds to pets and people. Currently, no deaths reported.

The CDC recommends that people wash their hands immediately after touching a bird feeder, birdbath, or handling a bird, even if they are wearing gloves. They also advise cleaning bird feeders every month, outside the home, when possible, to prevent feeders from harboring disease.

Washing bird feeders in soapy water before soaking them in a chlorinated water solution can also help to rake or collect the scattered bird droppings or pods under bird feeders.

Photo: Salmonella (red) invading human cells.

Infection with salmonella in developed countries generally results in food poisoning. The organisms enter through the digestive tract and must be ingested in large numbers to cause disease in healthy adults. Between 60% to 80% of salmonella infections cases go un-diagnosed.

Risk factors for salmonella infections include a variety of foods. Meats such as chicken and pork have the possibility to be contaminated. A variety of vegetables and sprouts may also have salmonella. Lastly, a variety of processed foods such as chicken nuggets and pot pies may also contain this bacteria.

Salmonella was first visualized in 1880. The name Salmonella was not used until 1900.

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