Global Affairs

This Salmonella Outbreak is Dangerous to You and Your Pets, CDC Says

a pine siskin on an evergreen branch

Photo: Steve Byland (Shutterstock)

Top 5 Android Smartphones In 2021 Review

You probably already knew that birds like chickens can carry Salmonella bacteria, which is why we cook chicken and try not to eat too much raw cookie dough (well, that and the dangers of raw flour). But the CDC is now warning that there is an outbreak linked to songbirds, and you should be careful if you have a birdbath or bird feeder in your yard.

The outbreak has sickened 19 people in eight states, with fortunately no deaths. Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, and can start anywhere between six hours and six days after swallowing the bacteria. (This could mean eating food that is contaminated, or touching your mouth with contaminated hands.) People who are under five years old, over 65, or have weakened immune systems are at risk for developing more severe or even life-threatening symptoms.

What you can do

The CDC recommends not touching or hand-feeding birds with your bare hands, and to wash your hands after touching birds (including dead ones) or handling a bird feeder or birdbath.

Pets can also be affected, so they also recommend keeping pets away from birdbaths and bird feeders, including the area underneath them. You should also wash your hands after handling pets’ food, bowls, toys, or after picking up their poop, even if you used a bag to do it.

Bird feeders and birdbaths should be cleaned weekly, the CDC says. This will help animals and humans stay healthy. But don’t clean them in your kitchen sink; do the chore outdoors if possible. Wash the feeder with warm soapy water, and then soak it in a nine-to-one bleach solution (nine parts water to one part bleach) for 10 minutes. Let it dry before refilling it, and wash your own hands afterward.

If you find a dead or sick bird

If you find a sick bird, call your local wildlife rehabilitator. If you find a dead bird, ask your state wildlife agency or game commission whether they want you to report it. (Some agencies will test dead birds if they are concerned about an outbreak in the area.) Read more about what to do here on the CDC’s page about the outbreak.

Related Articles

Back to top button