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Keywords:

  • Salmonella;
  • poultry;
  • chicks;
  • mail-order hatchery;
  • zoonoses

Summary

Outbreaks of human salmonellosis associated with live poultry contact have been reported since 1955. Multiple Salmonella serotypes have been associated with these outbreaks, and specific outbreak strains have been repeatedly linked to single hatcheries over multiple years. During 2009, four multistate outbreaks of human Salmonella infections associated with direct and indirect exposure to live poultry purchased from mail-order hatcheries and agricultural feed stores were identified, resulting in 165 culture-confirmed cases in 30 states. This report describes the epidemiologic, environmental and laboratory investigations conducted by state and local health departments, state departments of agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) and National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Case-patients were identified through PulseNet, the national molecular subtyping network for foodborne disease surveillance, and interviewed using the CDC standard live poultry contact questionnaire that asks about poultry-related exposures during the 7 days before illness onset. These outbreaks highlight the need to focus efforts on strategies to decrease and prevent human illness associated with live poultry contact through comprehensive interventions at the mail-order hatchery, agricultural feed store and consumer levels. Additional consumer education and interventions at mail-order hatcheries and venues where live poultry are sold, including agricultural feed stores, are necessary to prevent transmission of Salmonella from poultry to humans.