Salmonella Outbreak Tied to Mail-Order Hatchery

Mail order hatchery blamed for salmonella outbreak that began in 2005

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A cluster of salmonella infections, mostly affecting young children, that began in 2005 appears to be associated with contact with live chickens purchased through a mail-order hatchery.

A study into the multi-state salmonella outbreak that sickened at least 316 was traced to the hatchery after isolated samples were collected from the facility.

"Always cook all meat thoroughly, and wash hands immediately after handling."

Nicholas H. Gaffga, MD, MPH, an author of the study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Division of STD Prevention/Epidemiolgy and Surveillance, found that while interventions at the western U.S. hatchery reduced infections, they were not completely eliminated.

New infections were identified years after efforts to control the outbreak began.

CDC officials worked with public health officials and animal health agencies to conduct the investigation, which included patient interviews, environmental testing and efforts to trace the outbreak to prevent additional infections of rare strain salmonella Montevideo between 2004 and 2011.

More than 300 cases were identified in 42 states. The average age of infected patients was 4 years old. Researchers interviewed about half of those sickened or their caregivers. Nearly a quarter of those interviewed had been hospitalized, and more than half reported bloody diarrhea.

Of 159 patients with available information, 77 percent reported having contact with chicks. The mail-order hatchery was identified as a source of the young poultry in 81 percent of cases.

The outbreak strain was then identified at the hatchery following sampling.

Researchers said the continuing infections despite efforts to control the outbreak demonstrates the difficulty in eliminating salmonella transmission from live chickens.

The study was recently published in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 31, 2012
Last Updated:
May 31, 2012