CDC Investigates Poultry-Based Salmonella Outbreak

The U.S. Center for Disease Control is collaborating with public health and agriculture officials in several states and the USDA to investigate an outbreak of human Salmonella serotype Altona infections.

The CDC says that as of June 8, 2011, a total of 39 individuals has been infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Altona from 15 states. Illnesses began between February 25, 2011 and May 23, 2011. Infected individuals range in age from less than one year old to 86 years old and 44 percent of ill persons are 5 years of age or younger. No deaths have been reported yet.

The symptoms of those infected with Salmonella bacteria develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12-72 hours after infection. Infection is usually diagnosed by culture of a stool sample. The illness usually lasts from 4 to 7 days. Although most people recover without treatment, severe infections may occur. Infants, elderly persons, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely than others to develop severe illness. When severe infection occurs, Salmonella bacteria may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other body sites and can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics, says the CDC.

The investigation seems to have originated from those in contact with chicks and ducklings. 81% of 31 ill persons interviewed reported contact with live poultry chicks, chickens, ducks, ducklings, geese, and turkeys prior to becoming ill. In May, laboratory testing yielded Salmonella Altona bacteria from three samples from a chick and its environment collected from an ill person's household in Ohio, and three environmental samples collected from chick and duckling displays at two locations of Feed Store Chain A in North Carolina.

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