SPRINGFIELD – Dr. Eric E. Whitaker, state public health director, is warning the public today about handling birds, such as baby chicks and ducks, and the risk of disease. Two Illinois Salmonella ser. Montevideo cases from separate households in Madison County match a multi-state outbreak pattern linked to contact with birds (ducklings and chicks). Both cases have reported contact with birds purchased from the same local chain feed store and both have onset of illness in May 2007. It is not yet known how many locations across Illinois have received infected birds so anyone purchasing animals needs to be cautious.
“A person can contract salmonellosis through contact with animals, such as handling birds, cleaning cages, feeding and touching them,” said Dr. Whitaker. “You should always wash your hands with soap and water after any type of contact with animals.”
Salmonella bacteria can be found in the feces of animals, including birds. Animals can become infected and can then infect humans in contact with the animal's fecal material. The animal may show no signs of illness.
Symptoms of salmonellosis in people can last several days to a week and include diarrhea and fever. Symptoms usually appear six to 72 hours after exposure to the organism.
If persons have symptoms of diarrhea and fever following contact with baby chicks or ducklings they should seek attention from a health care provider and call their local health department.