It's not the best news you want to hear kicking off your unofficial start of the summer, especially with a barbecue-heavy holiday weekend.

A multi-state Salmonella outbreak includes Washington, Oregon, and California.

Public health officials are still investigating, but it is believed the outbreak is from "backyard poultry".

People who have pets (or wild) chickens and ducks are encouraged to keep things clean.

The birds can carry Salmonella germs (even if they appear healthy), and the germs can spread very easily.

chicken eating out of a persons hands, with an up-close view of bacteria

Touching anything that has come into contact with Salmonella germs can transfer the germs to other items, including food and, eventually, your mouth.

When the germs are ingested, that's when you can get sick.

According to the Center For Disease Control (CDC), as of this writing, 109 illnesses have been reported, 33 of them hospitalized. Luckily, out of the 29 states affected by this outbreak, 0 deaths have been reported.

How To Safeguard against Salmonella

Stay clean and wash your hands, especially after touching backyard poultry, eggs, or anything in their area. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not an option.

Avoid hugging, kissing, or snuggling your backyard poultry. Yes, they can be pets and members of your family, but if you're sick, who will take care of them?

RELATED READING: Washington State University Discovers 'Vampiric Bacteria'

Don't eat or drink around them, and keep supplies you use while taking care of them (including shoes) outside of your house.

What are the severe symptoms of Salmonella?

  • High Fever (above 102°F)
  • Diarrhea (longer than 3 days)
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration.
  • Stomach Cramps.

Symptoms of Salmonella can start anywhere from 6 hours to 6 days after ingesting the bacteria.

Luckily, most people recover within 4 to 7 days.

If symptoms last longer and you don't appear to be improving, or if you have young children, are older than 65, or have a weak immune system, contact your health care provider.

For more information on Salmonella, click here.

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