Salmonella Outbreak Is Linked to Wild Birds and Feeders, C.D.C. Says

A salmonella outbreak linked to contact with wild songbirds and bird feeders has sickened 19 people across eight states, eight of whom have been hospitalized, federal health authorities said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it was investigating salmonella infections in California, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee and Washington State in people ranging in age from 2 months to 89 years old.

Six cases were reported in Washington and five in Oregon. No deaths have been reported.

Public health officials across the country interviewed 13 of the people who were infected and asked them about animals they had come in contact with a week before they became ill, the C.D.C. said. Nine said they owned a bird feeder, and two reported they had come into contact with a sick or dead bird. Ten people said they had pets that had access to or contact with wild birds, the agency said.

To prevent further cases, the C.D.C. recommends cleaning bird feeders and bird baths once a week or when they are dirty. People should avoid feeding wild birds with their bare hands, and should wash their hands with soap and water after touching a bird feeder or bath, or after handling a bird.

Salmonella bacteria can spread from birds to pets and to humans. People may experience diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps for anywhere from six hours to six days after infection, according to the C.D.C. Children, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems sometimes suffer worse cases of salmonella, though most people recover in a week or less without treatment.

Because many people recover quickly and are not tested for salmonella, the C.D.C. said it was likely that the true number of cases resulting from the outbreak was much higher than the number of reported cases.

About 1.35 million cases of salmonella are reported every year in the United States. Of those, about 26,500 require hospitalization and 420 result in death, according to the C.D.C.

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