Chicks and ducklings don't make good pets for young kids. Sure they look cute, but they soon grow up and can be quite messy. And young kids aren't well-known for washing their hands very often and do often put their fingers in their mouth, which raises their risk of getting sick from Salmonella, a common bacteria that is associated with chicks and ducklings.
Getting Salmonella from chicks and ducklings is a known risk, which is why there are often warnings about giving or getting pet chicks and ducklings to kids around Easter.
While there are always a few cases of Salmonella around Easter, this year, there has actually been a large Salmonella outbreak that has been linked to contact with chicks and ducklings. So far, since February, at least 39 people have gotten sick in 15 states, many of them children less than 5 years old.
The connection to Ohio, in addition to the fact that 8 people in Ohio have gotten sick with Salmonella, chicks and ducklings were likely from an Ohio hatchery and then sold at other feedstores.
To avoid getting Salmonella from chicks and ducklings, make sure your kids treat them as farm animals and not pets. That means that your kids shouldn't snuggle or kiss the birds. You should also encourage your kids to:
- avoid touching their mouth or eating or drinking around live poultry
- not let chicks or ducklings in the house or on outdoor patios
- wash their hands well with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after having any contact with chicks or ducklings or their cage
It is also important to supervise kids well if they are around live chicks or ducklings, and be sure to remind your pediatrician about any contact with chicks or ducklings if your child develops any Salmonella symptoms.