CDC Investigating Multistate Outbreak of Human Salmonella Hadar Infections Linked to Live Poultry

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating a multistate outbreak of human Salmonella Hadar infections linked to live poultry.

A total of 37 persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Hadar have been reported from 11 states. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: Arizona (2), California (1), Colorado (3), Idaho (5), Illinois (2), Oregon (5), Tennessee (2), Texas (1), Utah (5), Washington (9), and Wyoming (2). Eight ill persons have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Among the persons who reported the date they became ill, illnesses began between March 19, 2012 and July 6, 2012. Infected individuals range in age from less than 1 year to 69 years, and 37 percent of ill persons are 10 years of age or younger. Forty-nine percent of ill persons are female. Among 26 ill persons with available information, eight (31 percent) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

In interviews, ill persons answered questions about contact with animals and foods consumed during the week before becoming ill. Twenty-four (89 percent) of 27 ill persons interviewed reported contact with live poultry (e.g., chicks, ducklings, turkeys) before becoming ill. The median time from acquiring baby poultry and illness onset was 19 days, with a range of 4 to 70 days. Live poultry were purchased from agricultural feed stores or direct from the mail-order hatchery. Ill persons reported purchasing live poultry for backyard flocks to produce eggs or meat, or to keep as pets. Seventeen (85 percent) of 20 ill persons with available purchase information reported purchasing live poultry from various locations of 13 different agricultural feed store companies in multiple states.  Because the potential for Salmonella infection exists wherever these live poultry are sold, and not just at one feed store, CDCs recommendations apply wherever these poultry are sold.

Findings of multiple traceback investigations of live poultry from homes of ill persons have identified Hatchery B in Idaho as the source of chicks and other live poultry. The owners of the mail-order hatchery are working closely with public health and agriculture officials to address this outbreak. Hatchery B is a participant in the USDA-National Poultry Improvement Plan which is a program to eliminate Salmonella pullorum and Salmonella typhoid from breeder flocks but does not certify freedom from other strains of Salmonella in birds. Because the hatching season has ended for this year, Hatchery B is not currently producing live poultry for sale. Live poultry infected with Salmonella can appear healthy and clean, but still shed Salmonella germs that can make people sick. Because live poultry from Hatchery B may live in backyard flocks for long periods of time, it is important to be aware of the risk of Salmonella infection from these birds. 

CDC is collaborating with public health and agriculture officials in many states and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, National Poultry Improvement Plan, and Veterinary Services to investigate an outbreak of human Salmonella Hadar infections linked to chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry from Hatchery B in Idaho. The mail-order hatchery has not been named at the request of state authorities. Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify cases of illness that may be part of these outbreaks. In PulseNet, the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC, DNA "fingerprints" of Salmonella bacteria are obtained through diagnostic testing with pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, or PFGE, to identify cases of illness that may be part of this outbreak.