Each year, an average of 10,000 people in the UK are infected with Salmonella, a bacteria that infects animals. Salmonella, which most commonly infects poultry, can cause food poisoning in humans through consumption and cross-contamination, which in a commercial capacity can cause a number of issues.
Salmonella in poultry, whilst not commonly heard of in mainstream media, affects a number of farm businesses in the UK each year, with several strains of the Salmonella bacteria able to infect birds. The most common found in poultry are Salmonella Enteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium, which also cause a foodborne illness in humans called Salmonellosis.
Once a bird is infected with the bacteria, they can vertically transmit it to their eggs. This can encourage the spread of the infection to humans through consumption or to the chick, if the egg hatches. If hatching eggs become infected with Salmonella, it can lead to a lower number of chicks hatching and an increased mortality rate in the newly hatched chicks.
Poor biosecurity and hygiene are often some of the major culprits of a Salmonella outbreak on-farm. Biosecurity measures such as keeping farm animals away from wild or infected birds and rodents as well as practising good hygiene can help prevent the spread of Salmonella, which can easily travel if preventative measures are not applied.
What are the origins of Salmonella in poultry?
The first recorded outbreak of Salmonella in poultry was in the United States in 1929, however, the bacteria is thought to have been around for much longer. It is believed that the industrialisation of poultry farms has increased the spread of the bacteria as animals are confined in close quarters, allowing it to travel quickly between the livestock.
What are the symptoms of Salmonella in poultry?
Symptoms of Salmonella are not typically easy to spot, especially in individual birds, meaning they may become more evident when observing a whole flock. The symptoms can also range depending on the age of the bird. Some of the most commonly cited symptoms are:
- Loss of appetite
- Poor growth
- Poultry crowding close to heat sources
- Sitting with drooping wings and eyes closed
- Watery diarrhoea
- Vomiting and fever
How does Salmonella spread in poultry?
Chickens can become infected with Salmonella through contact with contaminated water or feed, direct or indirect contact with other infected poultry, and as the bacteria can be found present in the intestines of infected animals, it can also be easily shed and spread through their faeces.
How do humans get Salmonella?
When the infection is present in poultry, it can contaminate the meat or eggs, meaning improper food handling and cooking can lead to human infection. The most common ways that Salmonella is spread to humans is through:
- Eating contaminated food, either eggs or meat
- Direct contact with infected animals or their faeces
- Contact with contaminated surfaces
What are the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning in humans?
Symptoms usually appear within 12-72 hours after eating contaminated food, with the most common symptoms of Salmonellosis being diarrhoea, vomiting, fever and pains in the stomach.
The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people recover without treatment. Elderly people, young children, and those with weakened immune systems are at highest risk for complications from Salmonellosis.
Protecting your flock from Salmonella with Livetec
It is essential that you have a solid biosecurity plan in place for your flock to prevent the introduction of Salmonella. At Livetec, we understand the importance of biosecurity in protecting your farm business. That’s why we offer a range of services designed to help you mitigate the risk of disease outbreaks.
For over a decade we have dealt with outbreaks of diseases such as Salmonella, avian influenza and many more, meaning we are well positioned to support farm businesses across the UK in preventing disease entering their premises.
Our bespoke biosecurity services can help you develop and implement effective strategies to safeguard your business against delays, operational downtime, and stress to both you and your animals. All of our services are aligned with government guidelines and are designed to help you avoid the worst.
To find out how to protect your farm from disease, contact the Livetec team here.