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posted on March 25, 2010 09:48

 

Baby Chicks Can be Dangerous Easter Gifts
 
Signs advertizing baby chicks or ducklings for sale are beginning to show up around the state, and parents might be tempted to purchase them as Easter gifts. But the young fowl can be dangerous for young children, warn state health officials, and should be avoided as gifts.
 
“We urge people to avoid baby chicks, ducklings and other young fowl as Easter gifts because they pose a real health risk for young children and those with weakened immune systems,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist for the Division of Public Health. “These birds may appear healthy, but they can carry strains of Salmonella and other bacteria that can cause serious illness.”
 
In the past, baby chicks have been identified as sources of Salmonella in residents of Idaho and other states. In 2007, over 100 people from across the country were sickened from contact with young chicks; many of the infections were documented around the Easter holiday.
 
People, especially children, can be exposed to the bacteria by holding, cuddling or kissing the apparently healthy birds and then becoming sick. Children are most susceptible to infection by Salmonella from chicks because they are more likely to put their fingers in their mouths after animal contact and because their immune systems are still developing. Persons with HIV/AIDS, or who are pregnant, elderly or with other conditions that weaken the immune system also are at increased risk for infection.
 
Most persons infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12–72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts four to seven days.
 
To prevent illness associated with baby birds:
  • Do not keep baby birds in child care centers or inside homes;
  • Avoid eating or drinking around birds or their living areas; and
  • After handling birds immediately wash your hands with soap and water.  Avoid touching anything else before washing your hands, including pacifiers, toys or bottles.
 
More information can be found at CDC’s Healthy Pets Healthy People Easter chick’s website: http://www.cdc.gov/healthypets/easter_chicks.htm.
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