Health warning in response to nationwide salmonella outbreak

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The Texas Department of State Health Services is reminding families about the importance of basic hygiene practices around live poultry in light of a nationwide salmonella outbreak.

This is the largest ever salmonella outbreak linked to live birds in the United States. The outbreak has sickened at least 316 people in 37 states. At least 32 people in Texas have gotten sick after handling live poultry.  

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention traced the outbreak to a hatchery in Portales, New Mexico.

"With the popularity of backyard chickens, more people are at risk of being exposed to Salmonella. All poultry can carry the bacteria.," said Dr. Linda Gaul, Texas State Epidemiologist. "Fortunately, the risk of infection can be greatly reduced by taking some common sense steps like washing your hands with soap and water immediately after handling birds and not bringing live poultry into your home."

Health officials advise not letting children under five years old, elderly people or people with weak immune systems handle chicks, ducklings or other live poultry. Also, supervise children to make sure they wash their hands thoroughly after handling birds.

Salmonella bacteria can cause an infection that leads to diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment after four to seven days, but young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness that can lead to hospitalization or even death.

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