It's not uncommon for this time of year, but 2020's salmonella numbers are a little higher than in 2019.

As of this week, 938 people have been infected with salmonella in 2020, and the CDC reports a strong correlation with contact with chicks and ducklings. Cases have nearly doubled from last month's count of 473. This year's salmonella infection has been reported in 48 states.

It's not a drastic deviation from last year—the CDC reported in July 2019 a total of 768 people infected and two dead in 48 states.

Duck, duck, goose

Public health officials interviewed over 400 of the salmonella-infected people and found that 74 percent of them said they had been in contact with chicks and ducklings.

Since January when the illness was first reported, the CDC has identified 15 multi-state outbreaks. Three of those outbreaks were found in Kentucky and Oregon and have been linked to poultry and their coops. The CDC didn't speculate why 2020 has been a worse year for salmonella than years past. The CDC's timeline of reported cases shows that infections began to spike at the end of March. Salmonella cases typically reach their peak in spring when poultry farming is most popular.

Salmonella and the precautions to take

Salmonella is the name of a group of bacteria. It's often carried in the gut of chicks, ducks, and other poultry. It poses no danger to the poultry itself, but when shared with humans, it can cause diarrhea, fever, and painful cramps. Humans can be exposed to salmonella on bird feathers or in eggs or droppings.

The CDC recommends these precautions against salmonella:

  • Frequent hand washing after handling any animals or objects from their environment (like eggs)
  • Refrain from kissing or snuggling poultry
  • Keep children under 5 years old away from poultry, as young children are more likely to become severely sick 

Do you know anyone who owns backyard ducks or chicks? Is salmonella worth worrying about? Comment below!