Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hatchery Infects 126 Small Flockers

Unsafe Practice:  Infant kissing chick, risk of salmonella poisoning or other disease causing severe illness or death
Unsafe Practice:  Image of infant kissing chick
at encouragement of adult.  This is a really bad
idea that could make the child seriously ill, leave
them chronically ill, or kill the child.
A mail-order hatchery that supplies chicks and ducklings has been identified by CDC as the source of the infection.  CDC states that this hatchery has been the source of previous outbreaks in the past, and has done it again, this time with salmonella (Strains Infantis and/or Newport).

US Government's Centres for Disease Control and Prevention report that a total of 126 people have been infected, 35% of those have been hospitalized, across 26 States, starting in Feb. 2014, and continuing till May 27th.  More cases may still be coming, as it takes 2 to 4 weeks for new cases to be reported.

Mt. Healthy Hatcheries, the hatchery fingered by CDC as the source of the outbreak, has been in business for 80 years.  They produce up to 200,000 chicks per week.  When the lawyers get done with them for this last outbreak, they might not be in business for much longer.

Mt. Healthy has published an explanation on their website, stating that they have suspended purchasing poultry chicks from one of its sub-contractor suppliers. Mt. Healthy claims they meet USDA Best Practices for controlling or preventing salmonella in hatcheries.  We might not know the true culprit for 10 years or more, possibly never.

It would be impossible for anybody, Small Flocker or otherwise, to determine if this was a "reputable dealer" for chicks, as suggested by CDC.  Therefore, Small Flockers should presume all chicks purchased are contaminated until proven otherwise.

Nobody, especially not children, should be allowed to nuzzle or kiss farm animals, chicken, or other poultry.  For safe handling of chicken and eggs, see here and here.

  1. To protect your farm animals, you and any visitors (if you allow any) should wash your hands prior to going to see the animals, and wash again between different pens/barns of the same species, and/or between different species.
  2. You should re-wash immediately after leaving the livestock area.
  3. Nobody should be allowed on a farm tour or visit unless they have been warned about biosecurity in general, and these recommendations in specific, and they can control themselves so as not to touch any surfaces unless told it's OK to do so, and can avoid touching their face with their hands until after they have left the farm and re-washed their hands.
  4. Small Flockers should only buy chicks from hatcheries that can prove they meet the USDA Best Management Practices Handbook A Guide to the Mitigation of Salmonella Contamination at Poultry Hatcheries, March 2014 version.
  5. If you sell eggs or meat to others, your customers should be clearly and plainly warned of the risks, and precautions they should take to avoid becoming infected.
Perhaps Small Flockers can demonstrate how biosecurity excellence is achieved, something that the big factory farmers do not yet understand, and are far from achieving.

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