Though they are cute and soft and associated with the arrival of spring, baby chicks or ducklings can carry harmful salmonella bacteria, health officials warn.

“We strongly discourage giving chicks or ducklings as gifts,” said Dr. Alan Melnick, Clark County health officer.

“To prevent possible infection with salmonella bacteria, give your child a stuffed toy animal instead. Anyone who touches a chick or duckling or its environment should immediately wash his or her hands afterwards.”

Children under 5 should never handle baby chicks or other young birds. Young children are most susceptible to infection because they’re more likely to put their fingers into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing, according to Clark County Public Health.

Others at increased risk include the elderly, persons with sickle-cell disease or HIV/AIDS, and others with compromised immune systems.

Birds should also be kept away from food and drink. Salmonella infection can cause diarrhea, fever, stomach pain, nausea and sometimes vomiting that most commonly starts within 12 to 36 hours after ingestion.

  • Browmie Barker

    We raise both chickens and ducks. Our breeder has the peeps certified salmonellae free before they ship.
    It is my understanding the big breeders such as Tyson accidentally breed salmonellae into their birds and it is cheaper for them to till you to cook the poultry longer than to re-breed. Sort of similar to Tyson’s claim their birds were anti-biotic and hormone free. they just injected a lifetime supply into the eggs.

  • Judith

    I nearly died from this spring ritual when I was in third grade. They took 3rd graders to the local grain elevator to visit the baby ducks and chicks at Easter..I caught salmonella poisoning, was down for 3 weeks & lost about 20 percent of my body weight, hallucinated from the fevers.. I knew I was dying, which scared my parents worse than it scared me. It has made me extra careful about handwashing my whole life!

  • Jim w

    My six month gregnant daughter
    bought two baby ducks one week ago
    she holds the ducks every day
    she washes her hands and uses sanitary cleaners
    can’t get her to part with ducks
    if they are free of salmonella can they still get it
    should pregnant women be alarmed