Texas DSH advises public on proper hygiene to decrease salmonella risk

The Texas Department of State Health Services released a statement on Monday that informed the public on how to decrease the risk of contracting salmonella from live poultry.

A recent salmonella outbreak has infected at least 316 people across 37 states including Texas. It was the largest salmonella outbreak caused by live birds in United States history.

"With the popularity of backyard chickens, more people are at risk of being exposed to Salmonella," Texas State Epidemiologist Dr. Linda Gaul said. "Fortunately, the risk of infection can be greatly reduced by taking some common sense steps like washing your hands with soap and water immediately after handling birds and not bringing live poultry into your home."

Health officials warned the public to keep children under five years of age, elderly people or people with compromised immune systems from handling live poultry or chicks, as they are most susceptible to infection. Anyone who handles live birds should wash their hands thoroughly after doing so.

Texas health officials also advised that people keep their faces away from birds, especially their mouths. All items that come into contact should with live birds should be kept outside of the home and live poultry should not come into contact with human food. Birds with salmonella can infect anything with which they come into contact.

The current outbreak was traced to Portales, New Mexico. Thirty-two cases of salmonella were reported in Texas, and health officials hope to keep others from getting infected.