Deadly salmonella outbreak sickens dozens in Tennessee, hundreds across the country

Jonathan Roberts • Jul 26, 2019 at 12:00 AM

A deadly salmonella outbreak has affected nearly 800 people nationally and sickened 56 Tennesseans.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the outbreak is linked to backyard poultry. Three-quarters of the 768 ill people reported contact with backyard poultry before coming ill, according to the CDC, and 122, or 29%, of people infected have been hospitalized. Two deaths in Ohio and Texas have been attributed to the outbreak.

A separate outbreak associated with pig ear dog treats has affected nearly 100 people in 27 states. Twenty have been hospitalized, but there’s been no fatalities.

“We have had 56 salmonella cases in Tennessee associated with the poultry outbreak and no cases associated with the pig ear dog treats,” said Bill Christian, a spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Health.

Christian declined to give a breakdown of the cases by region, citing an ongoing investigation by the department.

Reported cases of the illness have more than doubled in Tennessee since June, when there were 26 cases. In May, there were only four. Nationwide, reported cases of salmonella infection increased by 489, and is now affecting all 48 states in the continental U.S.

The CDC says that contact with backyard poultry (such as ducklings or chicks) are the likely cause, with the CDC saying “multiple hatcheries” are “likely” the source of the outbreak.

Symptoms include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, which appear 12 to 72 hours after exposure. The illness usually lasts about a week, with most people recovering without treatment. The Tennessee Department of Health recommends those exhibiting symptoms contact their primary care provider.

In order to stay safe, the CDC and the Tennessee Department of Health recommend always washing your hands with soap and water after touching backyard poultry or anywhere they live and roam, or using hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available.

The CDC also recommends:

• Not letting backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored;

• Setting aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keeping them outside;

• Not allowing children younger than 5, adults over 65 or people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs to handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry;

• Not eating or drinking where poultry live or roam; and

• Staying outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed, or water containers.

For a complete list of recommendations, read the CDC’s guidelines for backyard poultry at https://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/pets/farm-animals/backyard-poultry.html

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