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Nine salmonella victims in B.C. Interior contracted from live chicks

The Interior Health Authority is dealing with an outbreak of salmonella connected to live poultry sold through an Alberta hatchery.
May 27, 2015 - 5:26 PM

THOMPSON-OKANAGAN - The Interior Health Authority is bearing the brunt of a B.C. salmonellosis outbreak connected to live poultry distributed from a hatchery in Alberta.

The health authority has dealt with nine of 13 confirmed cases within the province and one of the two that required hospitalization, according to Althea Hayden, a public health physician.

Hayden said all of the patients have since recovered, including both of the cases that were admitted to hospital.

“Nobody died and we don’t expect anyone to,” Hayden said, although more cases are possible and the outbreak is not considered over. “We haven’t had any new cases today but I wouldn’t be surprised if we see more.”

All of the B.C. cases involved exposure to live chicks purchased from an unamed poultry hatchery in Alberta. Another 17 cases were found in Alberta and four in Saskatchewan.

So far, the known cases can all be placed within April 5 to May 12, although the hatchery is contacting customers who bought live poultry as far back as March 1. Some B.C. customers may have bought their chicks from local feed stores.

The health authority here is hoping to reach an unknown number of backyard breeders, egg-sellers and non-commercial organic farms to either have their birds tested for salmonella or to contact their suppliers.

Hayden said that’s because chicks with salmonella, which grow up to become layers, can infect the eggs they produce or the meat when they are slaughtered.

“The infection stays in their ovaries so as a result, some of the eggs they lay can be infected if the egg is not cooked thoroughly,” Hayden added.

Salmonella victims usually experience stomach cramps, diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and dehydration. Most people recover on their own, but the very young and old, pregnant women and immuno-compromised people are at risk of more serious symptoms, Hayden said.

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control advises anyone who has owns or works around live poultry to avoid close contact, including kissing the baby chicks and to take other precautions when handling them.

“People who buy these birds often have affectionate relationships with them,” added Hayden. “Kids love baby chicks which are quite adorable and people will often snuggle with them."

Small flock owners who purchased chicks between March 1 and May 15, 2015 are being encouraged to kill off their flocks and to clean and disinfect their chicken coops.

The Animal Health Centre at the Ministry of Agriculture is offering free salmonella testing if they suspect their flock is related to this outbreak.

To contact the reporter for this story, email John McDonald at jmcdonald@infonews.ca or call 250-808-0143. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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