New Mexico DOH advises parents not to give baby chicks and ducklings as Easter gifts
The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and the New Mexico Livestock Board advised parents to avoid giving baby chicks and ducklings as Easter gifts to young children. For good measure, they also advised against buying small turtles (<4 inches) because all these creatures, as cute as they are, are known carriers of the bacterium, Salmonella.
Health officials say that there have been 16 cases of Salmonella in the past six years attributed to baby chicks.
In a Thursday news release, Department of Health Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Catherine Torres said, “While there are many good reasons to purchase baby chicks, we are asking feed stores around the state to strongly discourage people from buying baby chicks as pets, especially if they have young children”.
Health officials also say that many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella in their droppings, and it is difficult to know if animals are carrying Salmonella because they will not usually show signs of illness.
The NMDOH recommends the following preventive measures:
• Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water immediately after touching live baby poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
• Adults should supervise hand washing for young children.
• Don’t snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live baby poultry.
• Do not let live baby poultry inside the house or in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored, such as kitchens, pantries, or outdoor patios.
• Do not clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers, in the house.
• Do not let children younger than 5 touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
Salmonella is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain.
In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.