Mail-order chicks are likely responsible for hundreds of salmonella cases over an eight-year period, said US health officials Thursday.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that one US hatchery that ships chicks to households caused over 300 people to fall ill between 2004 and 2011, with thousands more cases likely gone unreported.
In total, the hatchery represented about 80 percent of the cases investigated in a new study looking at the outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo, a nasty strain of the bacteria.
Most of those who fell ill are said to be children.
There were no reported deaths but dozens were sent to hospital with symptoms of food poisoning.
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“This was an eight-year investigation into an outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo that was linked primarily to one mail-order hatchery in the US,” said report author and CDC official Casey Barton Behravesh, reported HealthDay.
“We were able to work with the hatchery, and after the intervention, the number of human infections declined. This is a success story."
According to MSNBC, the CDC investigated the spate of outbreaks using genetic fingerprinting in cooperation with health officials to identify the culprit.
The Associated Press reported that about 50 million poultry are sold by mail each year due to the growing popularity of backyard farming.
The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.