Salmonella infections linked to backyard poultry

Please attribute to Dr Alun Richards, Acting Executive Director, Communicable Diseases Branch, Prevention Division:

Queensland Health is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium infections predominantly among young children that has been linked to contact with backyard poultry.

As at 26 June there had been 17 cases reported across the state.

Thirteen of these were in children aged 11 years or younger. Five children were hospitalised for their illness.

The large majority of cases have reported handling chicks that were purchased in the two-week period prior to their illness.

These chicks have been obtained from a range of produce and pet stores in Queensland.

The investigation into the supplier of chicks to these stores is ongoing.

Backyard poultry can harbour and shed Salmonella that cause illness in humans, even though the birds are healthy and clean.

The public health advice for owners of backyard poultry include:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and running water immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, their enclosures, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
  • Use hand sanitiser if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Adults should always supervise children around poultry and ensure they wash their hands afterwards.
  • Do not let children snuggle or kiss the birds, touch their mouth, or eat or drink around poultry.
  • Do not let poultry inside the house.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhoea, fever and stomach cramps 6 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.

The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover without treatment.

Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems may develop a more severe illness.

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