MOUNT HEALTHY, Ohio - A new salmonella outbreak that sickened nearly 100 people has been traced to mail-order chicks from Mount Healthy.
Friday, a spokesperson for the Mt. Healthy Hatcheries confirmed they were at the center of the investigation by the Ohio Department of Agriculture and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since March, 93 cases of salmonella have been reported in 23 states, the CDC reported.
Eighteen people were hospitalized and one death is being investigated to see if it was caused by the infection.
Investigators interviewed dozens of the patients and most said they had touched chicks or ducklings before they got sick.
The hatchery issued the following statement:
Clearly, any time there is a death or illnesses, it is tragic, and we share the public’s concern.
Mt. Healthy Hatcheries is working collaboratively with authorities at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they proceed with their investigation.
We are and will continue to work with suppliers of hatching eggs and chicks purchased by Mt. Healthy Hatcheries to ensure we can provide safe, healthy chicks for our customers. We also will continue to educate consumers on proper care and handling of those animals.
9 News spoke with Hamilton County Public Health Department Director of Environmental Health, Jeremy Hessel, about properly handling chicks and ducklings.
Hessel recommends washing your hands thoroughly after handling or touching the birds. He also says the outbreak is a reminder that chicks and ducklings are outdoor animals and shouldn't be kept inside your home.
"With this particular situation with the chickens, what we ask people to do is make sure you're not handling the chickens, kissing the chickens, have them in your home, and continuously wash your hands if you're going to handle them," said Hessel.
9 News went inside Mount Healthy Hatcheries, which had several flyers and handouts reminding customers to wash their hands and instructing them on how to properly care for and handle the animals.
Mount Healthy Hatcheries was tied to a salmonella outbreak last year as well.
State regulators visited the business repeatedly and say it has done what the state asked.
"The place is very clean," said Erica Pitchford, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
It's possible salmonella may have come from other businesses that supply chickens to the hatchery, she said.
The latest outbreak is different from one reported Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine. That one involved more than 300 cases of a different salmonella strain over eight years, and was traced to a hatchery in New Mexico.
The ability of officials to identify and trace outbreaks is improving. But there may also be a real increase in salmonella cases from chicks that's driven by the increasing popularity of backyard flocks, said Casey Barton Behravesh, a CDC veterinary epidemiologist.
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