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2017-04-21 / Features

Simple steps keep backyard poultry-keepers safe

Springtime means many Minnesotans are starting their personal poultry flocks for the season. Poultry, such as chickens and ducks, are often ordered through the mail or purchased at local feed stores. These small flocks provide local eggs and meat, as well as great learning opportunities.

However, there are risks associated with raising poultry, especially for children under 5 and people with weakened immune systems (including older adults and pregnant women). The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) recommends that families raising poultry follow a few simple steps that can help keep them healthy.

Be aware that bacterial infections can come from handling live poultry. In 2016, there was a large nationwide outbreak of salmonella infections linked to live poultry in small flocks. Across the U.S., 896 people became ill with salmonella bacteria, including 32 Minnesotans. Over the past 5 years, 376 Minnesotans became ill with salmonella or campylobacter infections linked to live poultry.

Keep poultry in their own space, not inside yours. Do not let live poultry in your house or in areas where food or drinks are prepared, served or stored. Dedicate a pair of boots or shoes for use in poultry areas only. Don’t wear them anywhere other than your poultry area, and keep them outside.

Wash your hands. Remember to wash your hands with soap and water after contact with poultry or their environment. It’s a simple and effective way to stay healthy. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not readily available, but wash with soap and water as soon as you can.

Keep them healthy, keep them safe. To keep your poultry healthy, house them in a secure area with intact fences, barriers or buildings. Although people love to cuddle baby poultry, this is a great way for people and poultry to share germs, putting them both at risk for becoming sick. If any animals become ill, separate them from the healthy animals and consult a veterinarian.

MDH works with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, which protects the health of Minnesota’s domestic animals, to keep Minnesota’s people and animals healthy.

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