Live poultry often are carriers of Salmonella – a germ that can be harmful to humans.
But how big is the risk?
In chickens, Salmonella is a naturally occurring germ that lives in the intestines. It is not a cause of the food that they eat or how they are raised. Even organically raised chickens can have Salmonella in their gut. It usually doesn’t make the birds sick. But it can cause serious illness when it is passed to humans.
The risk of actually catching Salmonella from chickens is very small if you follow some simple sanitary steps.
Let’s take a look at how Salmonella can be transferred from chickens to humans and what to do if it happens.
Salmonella can be found in the intestines of chickens. That means that their droppings can be infected. And because chickens are often in a confined space, there is a good chance that their feathers, feet and beaks also have Salmonella on them just from their walking around in their environment.
The germs can also get on anything they come in contact with – their cages, coops, water dishes, hay and dirt.
In other words, just by working with your chickens, you can get Salmonella on your hands, shoes, clothes, etc. And this creates the environment that allows you to get infected.
People become infected with Salmonella by touching various parts of their body – eyes, mouth, etc. – with hands that have been working with chickens. The risk is greater with children as they are more inclined to be putting their fingers or other contaminated objects in their mouths.
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to avoid being infected with just a few cleanliness steps.
There are several steps you can take to reduce the risk of catching Salmonella when working with your chickens. They include:
Salmonella sickness has a set of symptoms that are easily recognizable:
If you develop these symptoms without any other obvious reason, you should get checked out. Salmonella can be a deadly disease if left untreated. Treatment is typically a round of antibiotics but if you have a severe case, it can involve hospitalization for dehydration among other issues that can develop.
Salmonella is a serious disease but simple sanitary procedures dramatically reduce the risk. Follow the simple steps in this article to ensure that your adventures raising chicken are safe and productive.