Investigators tested the hatchery and turned up a DNA match with the same fingerprint from a swab taken inside a duck pen at the facility.

"It's a complicated outbreak because there's so many different feed stores involved and so many different hatcheries have supplied birds to them," reports Paul Ettestad, Public Health Veterinarian for the State of New Mexico.

He says there is little doubt the fingerprints match, and said the hatchery is working with a company to develop a custom vaccine that can be used at the facility.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), children are disproportionately affected in outbreaks associated with live poultry as their immune systems are not fully developed. They are also less likely than adults to wash their hands properly and more likely than adults to put their fingers in their mouths after handling animals and pets.

“I want to emphasize how cooperative the hatchery has been in helping to identify the source of this outbreak by working with officials from numerous agencies. Privett Hatchery was willing to conduct multiple tests,” said New Mexico Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward, in a statement. “The Department wants to remind parents not to keep live baby poultry in their homes. Any time anyone handles baby ducklings or chicks, they need to wash their hands thoroughly to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella.”

In its announcement of the outbreak, the N.M. state health department described Privett Hatchery as “a leading innovator on the national level for years in helping to reduce the level of Salmonella in live baby poultry sold to the public.”

Health officials say the hatchery has taken a number of steps to prevent further illnesses, including removing all poultry from the pen where the positive environmental sample was taken. The company is also in the process of vaccinating birds at the hatchery; eggs are undergoing decontamination before entry into the hatchery; protocols for cleaning and disinfecting the hatchery and associated equipment have been implemented; and structural improvements to the facilities have been made.

Company officials say they will continue to work diligently to prevent any further contamination and are cooperating with all state and federal agencies to remedy problems.

 

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