CHICKENS and ZOONOTIC DISEASES ~ RABIES reports from NORTH CAROLINA, RHODE ISLAND, & VIRGINIA ~ CDC Reports: ZOONOTIC DISEASE summary for week ending February 4, 2012.

Courtesy U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Global 02/16/12 Excerpts – “Bird flu is a concern, but it is a risk that is minimal in North America.  We have never had a bird-human transmissible flu virus on the continent.  If we ever get ‘bird flu’ in Canada, I will bet my next paycheck that it arrives on an airplane, carried by an infected person….likely from a country that is already dealing with a human outbreak.


There are risks with having backyard chickens, however.  Having birds in your backyard means having poop in your backyard, and in your coop.  Having poop in your backyard and coop means you have bacteria in your backyard and coop.  Bacteria will occasionally make you sick, if you get it in your body.  Salmonella, E.coli, and Clostridium are all types of bacteria that can live in chickens that are a threat to human health.

The nice thing about eggs is that there is only really one bacteria that will contaminate the interior of an egg before it is laid.  Salmonella enteritidis can live in the ovary of the hen, and be incorporated in the egg.  The unfortunate thing is that S.e. doesn’t necessarily make the hen very ill….so you could possibly eat an egg from a contaminated hen without knowing it.  The amount of money and time spent controlling this bacteria by professional farmers is staggering.  We have programs of regular testing, and plans for what to do if the bacteria is ever found….even if we just find it in the environment, and NOT in any eggs.  This makes our commercially available, graded eggs very safe.  In your backyard, it is much more difficult to be sure….  It is expensive and technically difficult to isolate S.e. from a contaminated hen….let alone one who might, or might not have it.  The thing to keep in mind is if anyone in your household, or anyone who eats eggs from your hens, gets sick with diarrhea (especially bloody) or a high fever, PLEASE let your doctor know that you have hens, and eat ungraded eggs…..catching an infection like this early is very important.”

“As I said above, the only real risk for contaminating the inside of the egg is Salmonella, but eggs come out of the hen moist and warm (>40 C).  That means that if the egg lands in a contaminated spot, it can “suck” bacteria (especially E.coli) through pores in the shell, as it cools.  It is crucial to keep the nest boxes clean, and be very careful with any egg that is not laid in the nest box.  Also, the shell is a very good barrier to infection, but if the egg is cracked, contamination is a much bigger risk.  Once a few bacteria get in through the shell’s defences, it is an ideal spot for the bacteria to thrive, and the number of bacteria will grow exponentially if the conditions are right.”  – With a checklist to decrease human health risks for urban farmers. – See complete article at

North Carolina 02/16/12 Carrboro, Orange County: A raccoon that was killed by a vaccinated dog near Borland and Old Woods roads tested positive for rabies. See

Rhode Island 02/16/12 Pawtucket, Providence County: Animal Control officials have confirmed that a raccoon captured in the Manton Street area tested positive for rabies. See

Virginia 02/16/12 Newport News: Local officials are looking for a dog described as a dark brown boxer with a black face that allegedly bit a person in the vicinity of Jefferson Avenue and Main Street. If the dog is not found, the victim may have to undergo PEP rabies treatment. See

CDC Reports:

CDC MMWR Summary for Week ending February 4, 2012:

Published February 10, 2012/ 61(05); ND-58-ND-71

Anaplasmosis . . . 2 . . . New York (2),

Ehrlichiosis . . . 2 . . . Georgia, North Carolina,

Giardiasis . . . 110 . . . Alabama (2), Arizona, Arkansas (4), California (12), Florida (25), Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland (5), Michigan, Missouri (6), Nebraska (2), New York (22), Ohio (12), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (7), Vermont, Virginia, Washington (4),

Hansen Disease (Leprosy) . . . 1 . . . California, 

Lyme Disease . . .  92. . . Delaware (3), Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Maryland (2), New Jersey (39), New York (21), North Carolina, Pennsylvania (18), Rhode Island, Virginia (3), Wyoming,

Rabies (Animal) . . . 27. . . Arkansas, Florida (10), Maine (2), New York (7), Texas (5), Vermont, West Virginia,

Spotted Fever (Confirmed) . . . 1. . . Georgia,

Spotted Fever (Probable) . . . 7 . . . Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia.


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