THE BIG PICTURE
The CDC estimates Salmonella causes about 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the United States every year. Here’s the kicker: of those 1.2 million illnesses caused by Salmonella, a whopping one million of those cases annually are caused by food, not live poultry. Put another way, more than 82% of Salmonella infections in the United States are not caused by backyard chickens, ducks or other poultry. The 18% of Salmonella cases not related to food include infections caused by pet turtles, geckos, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, bearded dragons, commercially processed shell eggs, and last, but not least, from exposure in microbiology laboratories!
So… out of 1.2 million Salmonella cases reported annually, a mere 212 cases of Salmonella illnesses this year have been linked to live poultry. Backyard chickens didn’t kill any of them, but food-borne Salmonella kills 450 people annually. Of the 23,000 annual Salmonella hospitalizations, only 34 were poultry-related this year. Where are the priorities at the CDC that Salmonella from live poultry warrants a Live Facebook event from a backyard chicken coop whose big take-away is…wait for it… “Wash your hands after handling chickens!” Duh. Tell us something we don’t know. How about a CDC educational event from the romaine lettuce section of a grocery store or a Chipotle restaurant’s kitchen?