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State officials say enjoy poultry, but do so safely!

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March 2, 2017

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936

               Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391


State officials say enjoy poultry, but do so safely!


Raising backyard poultry has become increasingly popular in Montana and many feed stores across the state offer chicks for sale. Raising your own flock can be a rewarding and fun experience that should include safe handling practices with live poultry to decrease disease risk.

“Even healthy animals can carry organisms that make people sick,” said Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) epidemiologist Dana Fejes.

In 2016, 15 Montanans became ill with Salmonella as part of an outbreak linked to live poultry that sickened 895 people in the U.S., hospitalized 209 of them and resulted in three fatalities. Young children and persons with weakened immune systems, such as women who are pregnant, the elderly, and those with chronic disease, are at greatest risk for infection.

The DPHHS and the Department of Livestock are asking Montanans to handle poultry responsibly. Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski said, “When caring for backyard flocks, these simple prevention measures will help to keep your families healthy and enjoying the benefits of raising animals”.

  • Wash your hands after handling animals
  • Avoid touching your mouth after animal contact
  • Don’t eat or drink around animals
  • Don’t bring poultry into the house
  • Supervise small children around animals
  • Don’t cuddle or kiss chicks

“Safe poultry handling is a way to prevent illnesses and keep our children and communities healthy,” Fejes stressed.

Please visit www.dphhs.mt.gov for guidance and more information.