It's common for chickens, ducks and other poultry to carry Salmonella as it is a germ that naturally lives in the intestines of poultry, as well as many other animals. While it usually doesn't make birds sick, it can cause serious illenss when it is passed to people.
Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps between 12 and 72 hours after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most individuals recover without treatment. In some cases, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. In these patients, the Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the blood stream, and then to other body sites. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics. The elderly, infants, and those with impaired immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
Tips for avoiding Salmonella infection include:
- Always wash your hands with soap and warm water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- Do not let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 6, and people with weakened immune systems handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or live poultry.
- Thoroughly cook eggs that you collect.