Chicks and ducklings kept in backyards are the likely source of a nationwide Salmonella outbreak that has sickened nearly 1,000 people and killed one person, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday.
The outbreak nearly doubled in size since the CDC's last report on June 24. Sick people range in age from 1 to 94-years-old, and more than 150 people have been hospitalized.
A separate salmonella outbreak tied to red onions has caused nearly 400 cases reported in 34 states this month.
Every state except Hawaii and Rhode Island has now reported at least one case in the poultry-related outbreak, the CDC says. Kentucky and Tennessee are currently the hardest hit states.
The agency believes backyard poultry — specifically chicks and ducklings — are to blame for the outbreak, citing interviews with 409 ill people.
The animals were obtained from several sources and testing has revealed three outbreak strains, the CDC reports.
"You can get sick with a Salmonella infection from touching backyard poultry or their environment. Backyard poultry can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean and show no signs of illness," the investigation notice warns.
Backyard poultry, especially chickens, have become popular pets in the U.S. Many owners continue to use them as a source for eggs and meat, too.
People who own backyard poultry should wash their hands after touching the animals.
"Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth," the CDC says. "Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored."
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. People sickened by the bacteria typically have symptoms in 6 hours to six days after being exposed.
Salmonella may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body, but most people most people recover without treatment. The illness typically lasts four to seven days.
In rare cases, salmonella infection can cause death.
People with weakened immune systems, children younger than 5 years and adults older than 65 years are more likely to have severe illness.
Contributing: Zlati Meyer, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Salmonella outbreak: Chicks, ducklings linked to nationwide outbreak