Salmonella cases in Washington have been linked to contact with backyard poultry.

In a release, the Department of Health says that four more cases of Salmonella illness tied to backyard poultry were reported last week by state health officials. This is part of a multistate outbreak under investigation by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The new cases, one each in Clallam, Island, Stevens, and Spokane counties, add to a total list of 20 cases so far this year in what officials are calling an outbreak. 

Of the Washington cases, ages range from 0-85 years old with two-thirds of those impacted being female and eight of the cases resulting in hospitalization.

In 2017, according to DOH, 23 cases were reported in what was the year with the highest number of cases in Washington related to a national outbreak,

Salmonella can cause serious illness, and can spread from animals to people and from people to people,” said Hanna Oltean who investigates zoonotic disease (diseases carried by animals) for the Department of Health. “You can get the infection from a variety of sources, including eating or drinking contaminated food or water or touching infected animals and not washing your hands.”

While anyone can get a Salmonella infection, children are especially at risk of illness because they are less likely to wash their hands and have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact than adults.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection begin about one to three days after exposure and include diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain.

Anyone who owns backyard poultry is asked to follow the following safety tips:

  • Always wash hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Even healthy-looking chickens, ducks, geese, and turkeys can carry Salmonella bacteria.
  • Don’t snuggle or kiss live poultry or allow them in family living spaces.
  • Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
  • Adults should supervise young children when handling live poultry.

“Call your health care provider if you or your child has a high fever, severe diarrhea, or other symptoms that concern you.”

For more information on safe live poultry handling and the health risks associated with Salmonella, visit the DOH website.