Salmonella — Health Tips

Salmonella and live poultry

It’s common knowledge that Salmonella germs can be carried by chicken, ducks, geese, and turkey—in fact, Salmonella naturally lives in the gut of these and other poultry. Because of this, people learning to cook are always told to cook poultry thoroughly before eating or serving it.

But did you know that Salmonella also naturally lives on the outside of a bird? Live poultry can have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their feathers, feet, and beaks, even when they appear healthy and clean—or, in the case of baby chicks & ducklings, very cute!

With spring looming here in Cascade County, it’s important for you to know that physical contact can lead to potential Salmonella infections. That means anyone handling live poultry—even young or very clean poultry—or in contact with an area where the birds live and roam is at risk for an infection.

Live poultry safety tips

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services, in conjunction with the Montana Department of Livestock and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) all recommend that anyone handling live poultry or spending time in (or cleaning up) a hen-yard wash their hands immediately afterward.

It’s also best if children under five years of age, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems don’t handle poultry. Keep poultry out of your house and away from anywhere you might eat, like an outdoor patio. Don’t snuggle or kiss chicks—no matter how adorable they are!—and regularly clean and sanitize any equipment used for your poultry (cages, feeders, etc.).

Salmonella and food safety

Beyond live poultry, one of the main causes of Salmonella that we see most often in our county is cross contamination of our food.

Here are a few tips for avoiding Salmonella infection:

  • use different cutting boards for meats than for veggies
  • don’t consume under-cooked or raw eggs
  • drink only pasteurized milk
  • disinfect utensils and food prep surfaces after each use
  • wash hand often: before, during and after preparing food
  • cook all meats thoroughly, particularly poultry

Do you have Salmonella?

Symptoms tend to develop 6-72 hours after consuming infected food or drink and typically last 4-7 days. Symptoms can include:

  • diarrhea
  • stomach cramps
  • headache
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • dehydration (especially among infants and the elderly)

For more information, contact the Cascade City-County Health Department at 406-454-6950 and ask to speak to a Public Health Nurse, or visit the CDC’s Salmonella page.