SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- The Missouri Department of Agriculture visited a Springfield hatchery Wednesday to investigate what the Centers for Disease Control is calling a multi-state outbreak of salmonella.
Sixty-six people from 20 states have been infected from contact with live poultry like baby chicks and ducklings. All the salmonella cases were reported from the end of Februrary through early June, and it's not exactly clear why the cases have popped up now. But so far, the agencies and the poultry producers themselves, believe hygiene is the best prevention.
At Estes Hatchery, new chicks are hatching all the time. In peak season, there are more than 100,000 a week. "I'm 4th generation. My children are fifth generation," says Estes Hatchery co-owner Sean Richardson.
In nine decades of poultry production, Sean Richardson says this is a first. "We don't want anybody to get sick or anything like that, and we're working fully with the state and federal officials," Richardson says.
The facility has passed all USDA inspections, and is taking all the usual precautions. "None of us have had any of the symptoms or anything from salmonella," Richardson says.
Today, some of the chicks were getting their first vaccine. They're actually next year's breeders, and the vaccine is the first of four to six vaccines that all the breeder chicks will get. "This particular strain (of salmonella)- there is no vaccine for it," says Richardson.
He's thankful the news isn't scaring all his customers away. "We like to have a variety, cause then the eggs are a little different color and each one tastes a little different," says customer Jason Duncan.
Duncan picked up some chicks last month, and didn't have a problem with salmonella. "This is our second round. Foxes got the first round," Duncan says.
This time around, he'll make sure the chicks are safer and take the same steps to keep from getting sick. "Just like any other time when you have animals, after you touch them or play with them, you do the same thing as you do when you go to the bathroom- you wash your hands," says Duncan.
It's a reminder Sean has pushed and posted over the years on the counter, on the door, and on the price lists mailed out each year.