Officials continue to monitor salmonella outbreak

Health officials are monitoring a salmonella outbreak related to backyard poultry that has sickened at least one in Clallam County and 20 statewide.

Meanwhile, Washington State University Extension will offer a Nov. 14 workshop on poultry handling that will use the current salmonella outbreak as a talking point.

Health officials issued an advisory last week saying there were 20 confirmed salmonella cases associated with backyard poultry, including recent cases in Clallam, Island, Spokane and Stevens counties.

Dr. Tom Locke, Jefferson County health officer and interim Clallam county health officer, said there had been no new salmonella cases reported as of Oct. 31.

“There’s a multi-state outbreak of another kind of salmonella that’s associated with pet turtles, but there have been no Clallam or Jefferson County cases of those,” Locke said last week in an interview.

The state Department of Health issued an advisory in October, saying eight of the 20 known salmonella cases related to backyard poultry required hospitalizations.

Locke has said the reported salmonella cases are likely the “tip of the iceberg,” as symptoms can be mild in healthy adults.

While anyone can get a salmonella infection, children are especially at risk because they are less likely to wash their hands after having contact with poultry and have more frequent hand-to-mouth contact than adults, health officials said.

Symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and stomach pain.

“We don’t recommend against people raising poultry, but there are some things that people should be aware of and cautious of,” Locke said.

WSU Extension will host a Nov. 14 class for small farmers and backyard poultry growers called “Winterize Your Poultry Flock.”

The program is for anyone raising egg-laying chickens on their farm or in their backyard and will include information about salmonella.

“We will discuss basic biosecurity principles,” said Kellie Henwood, regional small farms coordinator for WSU Extension in Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties.

The two-hour class will begin at 10 a.m. Nov. 14 in the Lake Crescent boardroom at the Clallam County Public Utility District headquarters at 104 Hooker Road in Carlsborg.

It is the fifth and final workshop in a series hosted by WSU Extension, which provides year-round assistance to small farmers.

Lisa Van Horn of Peninsula Poultry Breeders Network and WillowCroft Farm will teach workshop participants best practices and tips for keeping chickens during the winter months, Henwood said.

“Topics include basic biosecurity, winter housing needs, winter nutrition and health, parasite control, winter laying and egg production, what to do if your birds stop laying, thinking toward spring and adding chicks into your flock, and so much more,” Henwood said.

The cost to register for the class is $25. Youth 12 and under are free with an attending adult.

To register, visit poultryclass5.brownpapertickets.com.

For more information on the class or WSU Extension’s small farms program, contact Henwood at 360-379-5610, ext. 201, or kellie.henwood@wsu.edu.

Tips for the safe handling of poultry such as chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys include:

• Wash hands with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything where they live or roam.

• Do not snuggle or kiss the birds.

• Clean cages, feed and water containers and other equipment used to care for live poultry.

• Do not let live poultry inside the house or in areas where food is prepared.

Locke said there are about 2,000 types of salmonella associated with poultry, reptiles and other types of animals.

“Salmonella is a huge family of bacteria,” Locke said.

“The worst kind of salmonella causes typhoid fever, which fortunately is very rare in the United States and is not associated with any of the current strains.”

For information on WSU Extension on the North Olympic Peninsula, click on extension.wsu.edu/clallam or extension.wsu.edu/jefferson.

“We have many resources for people who would like to learn more about raising poultry safely and effectively,” Henwood said.

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