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Interaction With Live Poultry

March 29, 2018

Contact:  Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
                Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

State agencies encourage safe interaction with live poultry

Raising backyard poultry has become an increasingly popular activity in Montana. Many feed stores in Montana carry live chicks for sale, and the spring season is a popular time to start raising a new flock.

With the proper safety precautions, raising backyard poultry can be a fun and healthy experience.

However, some groups of people have a higher chance of becoming ill from handling live poultry.  Even handling baby birds displayed at stores can cause a Salmonella infection. To avoid illness, it’s important to keep several key precautions in mind.

In 2017, 13 percent of Montanans who were sick with Salmonella or Campylobacter interacted with live poultry in the period before they became ill. “Even if animals appear healthy, they could still transmit disease to people,” said DPHHS epidemiologist Rachel Hinnenkamp. Children under five and people with weakened immune systems, such as pregnant women, the elderly, and those with chronic disease, are at the highest risk for infection and should avoid handling live poultry.

The Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and the Department of Livestock encourage safe handling of live poultry using these simple prevention methods:

  • Wash your hands with soap and water after handling animals
  • Avoid touching your mouth after animal contact
  • Don’t eat or drink around animals
  • Avoid kissing or snuggling your birds
  • Keep chicks and ducks outside of the home
  • Supervise small children around animals

“When caring for backyard flocks, these prevention methods will help keep you and your families healthy and enjoying the benefits of raising animals,” said Assistant State Veterinarian Dr. Tahnee Szymanski of the Department of Livestock.

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