The Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services confirmed on Monday that 14 people in 11 counties across the state have been diagnosed recently with Salmonella after coming in contact with live poultry.
The agency says that the outbreak is not unique to Montana. According to the federal Centers for Disease Control, 372 people in 47 states have become ill and 71 were hospitalized since the outbreak began earlier this year.
More than one third of the Montana cases were children under 10 years old, and three adults were hospitalized for their illness.
The people infected are from the counties of Cascade, Gallatin, Glacier, Jefferson, Lewis & Clark, Mineral, Missoula, Powder River, Ravalli, Roosevelt, and Yellowstone.
DPHHS says that in Montana, people associated with the outbreak have reported obtaining live baby poultry, e.g., chicks and ducklings, from feed supply stores and relatives.
State health officials say that Salmonella is an organism that healthy poultry can carry without making them ill, but may cause severe diarrhea and abdominal pain to humans which can lead to dehydration. Sometimes people require hospitalization to recover.
The DPHHS and the Montana Department of Livestock encourage people to handle poultry responsibly. DOL Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski said, “When caring for backyard flocks, these simple prevention measures will help to keep your families healthy and enjoying the benefits of raising animals.”
“Raising your own flock can be a rewarding and fun experience, but consider the risk when purchasing poultry,” DPHHS epidemiologist Dana Fejes said.
Young children and people with weakened immune systems, such as women who are pregnant, the elderly, and those with chronic disease, are at greatest risk for complications from infection.
“Safe poultry handling is a way to prevent illnesses and keep our children and communities healthy,” Fejes stressed.