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March 22, 2010

Marla Augustine, Communications and Legislative Services, (402) 471-4047 or

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Public Health Vet: Salmonella Risk from Baby Birds at Easter

Lincoln—Peep, chirp, quack! Young birds, such as chicks and ducklings, often carry harmful bacteria called salmonella, according to the state’s public health veterinarian.

“Think twice before giving a baby bird to a young child as an Easter gift,” said Dr. Annette Bredthauer. “The birds may appear healthy and clean but can still infect people with salmonella.”

Salmonella is a bacteria that can be transmitted in the feces of the birds. Children become infected by putting their fingers or contaminated objects in their mouths.

“Birds just don’t make good Easter gifts,” Dr. Bredthauer said. “Give toy stuffed animals instead.”

If parents do get a bird:

  • Don’t let children under 5 years of age handle or touch it or come into contact with the box the bird came in;
  • If any person touches the bird or its environment, make sure they wash their hands immediately afterwards;
  • Don’t allow anyone to eat or drink while interacting with the bird;
  • Don’t keep the bird at a child care center or school, and
  • Keep it outside, not in your home.

Children under 5 years old, people with weakened immune systems and women who are pregnant or may be pregnant should not handle chicks because they can become seriously ill.