Chicks Peep, chirp, quack! one chick just hatched
parents should think twice before giving baby birds for
Easter brings to mind brightly colored eggs, baskets full
of candy, and large chocolate bunnies. Traditions associated
with the Easter season are enjoyable for children and
adults alike. However, some Easter traditions are of particular
concern for children, placing them at risk for serious
illness. Baby animals, including baby chicks and ducks,
are sometimes given as gifts or put on display at this
time. Because they are so soft and cute, many people do
not realize the potential danger baby chicks and ducklings
can be to small children. Young birds often carry harmful
bacteria called Salmonella. And, each spring some children
become infected with Salmonella after receiving a baby
chick or duckling for Easter.
bacteria carried in the chick's and duckling's intestine
contaminates their environment and the entire surface
of the animal. Children can be exposed to the bacteria
by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds. Children
are most susceptible to infection because they are more
likely than others to put their fingers into their mouths
and because their immune systems are still developing.
Others at increased risk include persons with HIV/AIDS,
pregnant women, the elderly and other immunocompromised
following questions and answers contain important information
for parents about baby chicks, ducklings and Salmonella.
For further information please visit the website (http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/diseases/salmonellosis.htm)
or talk to your veterinarian or health care provider.
should I not buy chicks and ducklings as Easter gifts?
Each spring there is an increase in demand from hatcheries
and farms to supply young animals for Easter. To meet
the demand, chicks are specially hatched in large quantities
and are shipped around the country. Hatching and shipping
many animals at one time increases the stress upon the
chicks and ducklings and makes them more prone to disease.
The likelihood of shedding Salmonella bacteria and infecting
is Salmonella transmitted? Children become infected
by putting their fingers or other things contaminated
with chick stool into their mouths. Chicks and ducklings
often do not appear dirty but may have feces on their
feathers and beaks - places where children are likely
How do I know if a chick or duckling has Salmonella?
Many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella in their
feces. It is difficult to know if chicks are carrying
Salmonella because they will not usually show signs of
do I reduce the exposure of young children to Salmonella
from chicks and ducklings? a. Do NOT purchase live
animals as Easter gifts. Give toy stuffed animals instead.
b. Do not let children under 5 years of age handle baby
chicks or other young birds. Keep them from coming into
contact with packages in which chicks or ducklings arrive.
c. If anyone touches the chicks or ducklings or their
environment, make sure that they wash their hands immediately
afterwards. Pacifiers, toys, bottles or other objects
should not touch the baby birds or their enclosures. If
these objects do become contaminated, wash them with warm
soapy water. d. Do not allow anyone to eat or drink while
interacting with birds or their environment. Keep the
bird area separate from areas where food and rink are
prepared or consumed. Do not allow chicks or ducklings
on table surfaces or places where food will be prepared
or eaten. e. Talk to your veterinarian, nurse or doctor
about possible risk factors.
just hatched. What are the signs of Salmonella infections
in humans? Salmonellosis (sal-mon-el-OH-sis) is a
disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella. Most people
have diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain that starts 1 to
3 days after they ingest the bacteria. These symptoms
usually resolve after 1 week. Other symptoms might be
nausea, chills, headaches or general achy feeling. Young
children, the elderly and other immunocompromised persons
may have a more severe infection. Occasionally, infections
are so severe that people have to see a doctor or be hospitalized.
How are Salmonella infections diagnosed and treated?
Diagnosis is obtained from culture of Salmonella from
the stool. Treatments are usually supportive, consisting
of fluid therapy and pain relief. Antibiotics should only
be used to treat severe cases of illness because antibiotics
may prolong the disease and many strains of Salmonella
are resistant to antibiotics.
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