Salmonella cases have jumped in Wyoming and health officials suspect the rise is tied to baby chicks

June 7, 2017 GMT

CASPER — The number of salmonella cases in Wyoming has spiked this year, and state health officials suspect the increase is tied to baby chicks.

Six cases involving live poultry have been reported so far this year in Natrona, Fremont, Goshen, Laramie and Converse counties, according to the Wyoming Health Department.

In comparison, there was only one Wyoming case reported last year. There were four cases in 2015 and one in 2014.

The rise could be tied to people handling chicks, according to the health department.

“Some people who are raising poultry may be unaware of the risk of salmonella infection,” said Tiffany Lupcho, an epidemiologist with the health department. “Baby chicks can carry harmful germs on their bodies and in their droppings even if they appear healthy and clean.”

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Young children, older adults and pregnant women are more likely to develop severe symptoms. It causes about 1.2 million illnesses annually in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The illness results in about 450 deaths each year.

To avoid getting sick, health officials recommend that people not eat or drink around live poultry or hold them closely to the face. It’s also best to wash your hands after touching the animals.

The birds should not be allowed in areas where food or drinks are stored or prepared.