According to the CDC:

duck and chicks and salmonella.jpgBaby animals, including baby chicks and ducks, are sometimes given as gifts or put on display at this time. Because they are so soft and cute, many people do not realize the potential danger baby chicks and ducklings can be to small children. Young birds often carry harmful bacteria called Salmonella. And, each spring some children become infected with Salmonella after receiving a baby chick or duckling for Easter.

Harmful bacteria carried in the chick’s and duckling’s intestine contaminates their environment and the entire surface of the animal. Children can be exposed to the bacteria by simply holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds. Children are most susceptible to infection because they are more likely than others to put their fingers into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing. Others at increased risk include persons with HIV/AIDS, pregnant women, the elderly and other immunocompromised persons.

We have six chicks – now grown and giving us 5 to 6 eggs daily. I keep thinking I should test for Salmonella, but frankly, I am pretty confident that I will likely find it. So, I clean the girls’ penthouse weekly and feed them organically with plenty of fresh water and days spent outdoors (albeit, fenced because of eagles, raccoons and a golden retriever). Sydney, my youngest has shoes she wears in the penthouse and has been long schooled on proper hand washing. We also tend to use the eggs in ways that they can be thoroughly cooked.