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A federal health agency says the backyard chickens and ducks are the most likely source of a multi-state salmonella outbreak that has sickened 52 people.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 52 reported cases across 21 states. Five people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

Those who became ill, the CDC said, reported being in contact with backyard poultry as chicks and ducklings.

"People may get infected with salmonella infections from backyard poultry or their environment," the CDC said.

The CDC did not release any other specific information about the infected patients, including theirs and hometowns, but said ranged from less than one year to 60 years old. Illnesses were reported to be between January 12 and April 29.

People who are at higher risk, the elderly, those with weakened immune systems, the CDC advises should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings or other poultry.

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Here's what to know about salmonella infection from the CDC:

  • Symptoms of salmonella infection – diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps – typical show up [12:72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.]
  • Salmonella may be spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In rare cases, Salmonella infection can cause death unless the person is treated promptly with antibiotics.
  • Children younger than 5 years, older than 65 years, and people with weakened immune systems are more

The CDC has this advice for backyard flock owners

  • Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.
  • Do not let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served or stored.
  • Children younger than 5, adults over 65, and people with weakened immune systems should not handle or touch chicks, ducklings , or other poultry.
  • Do not kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or

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Contact food writer Susan Selasky at 313-222-6872 or sselasky@freepress.com. Follow @SusanMariecooks on Twitter.

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