The Department of Public Health and Human Services announced on Monday that multiple Montanans have been diagnosed with Salmonella this spring. DPHHS Epidemiologist Dana Fejes explains.

“Currently in Montana we have had reports of at least 14 individuals who have become ill with Salmonella,” said Fejes. “Salmonella is a pathogen that healthy birds can carry, but they will make people sick with diarrhea illness and sometimes that even requires hospitalization.”

Fejes says three individuals in Montana had to go to the hospital for Salmonella, but all of them are on their way to recovery. According to Fejes, there are many precautions poultry owners can take in order to prevent illness.

“Don’t allow any children that are younger than five years of age to touch or handle live poultry and eggs without any supervison,” Fejes said. “Just so you can ensure that they are not putting their fingers in their mouth and that they wash their hands right after handling. Another thing we would not recommend is to kiss the birds, touch their mouths and eat or drink around them.”

Fejes acknowledges that raising your own flock can be a rewarding and fun experience, but she says it is important to consider the risk when purchasing poultry.