Salmonella outbreak: Calgary petting zoo adopts no-touch poultry policy

WATCH: A Calgary petting zoo says until further notice you won’t be able to handle any of their live poultry after a salmonella outbreak connected to baby chicks. Heather Yourex reports.

CALGARY – Alberta Agriculture is recommending petting zoos implement a no-touch poultry policy for children under five years of age following a salmonella outbreak linked to baby chicks. According to Alberta Health, 24 Albertans have become ill since April 5, including 10 children. Three adults and one child required hospitalization, but all four have since been released.

The outbreak has also been linked to illnesses in British Columbia and Saskatchewan. The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) says all of the cases involved contact with live baby poultry, and most have been traced back to an unnamed Alberta poultry hatchery.

READ MORE: Salmonella outbreak linked to Alberta chicks

“The funny thing about salmonella is that it causes noticeable disease in humans, but for a lot of animals, they’re not noticeably affected at all,” said Dr. James Talbot, Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health.

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“You can’t look at an animal, tell it’s sick, and take precautions.”

Butterfield Acres, a popular petting zoo located northwest of Calgary, is no longer allowing patrons to have any contact with live poultry on site.

In a emailed statement to Global News, a spokesperson said:

“We are taking precautions by adopting a no-touch policy for the poultry, and by restricting access to all our poultry pens. We are asking all visitors to watch the birds through the fences, and to use this situation as an excellent reminder that good hand washing is important.”

Dr. Talbot agrees hand washing is the best way to protect against salmonella infection, emphasizing people need to “wash their hands thoroughly after contact with any livestock animal and again before consuming any food.”

Symptoms of a salmonella infection typically start six to 72 hours after exposure. They include fever, chills, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms usually last from four to seven days.

READ MORE: Why health officials are telling consumers to stop washing chicken

Jesse Skelton / Global News

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