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Cute but dangerous?

Health district: little birds can carry disease


Easter chicks are cute but often spread disease. - Flickr photo by Ian Sanderson (Creative Commons License).

Those little chicks, ducklings and other baby poultry, though cute, may carry harmful bacteria called salmonella.

Each spring, people in Washington state become sick with salmonella after handling chicks and ducklings. Last year Grant County had 12 confirmed salmonella cases, Grant County Health District said in a release this week.

People may be exposed to salmonella bacteria by simply holding, cuddling or kissing the birds. Birds infected with salmonella do not usually appear sick.

Children are at a higher risk of becoming sick with salmonella because their immune systems are still developing, health district officials advise, and children are less likely to wash their hands, often putting them in their mouths.

Others at extreme risk are pregnant women, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems.

Salmonella infections can cause diarrhea, fever, and stomach pain, starting one to three days after coming in contact with the bacteria. Other symptoms might be nausea, chills, headaches, or a general achy feeling. Young children, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems may become severely sick, the district noted.

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