State officials discourage giving chicks, ducks as Easter gifts

The Associated Press

SANTA FE — The New Mexico Department of Health and the New Mexico Livestock Board in a news release are urging families to avoid potential exposure to Salmonella by not giving baby chicks and ducklings to children as Easter gifts.

“In the last four years, New Mexico has had 15 Salmonella cases related to baby chicks,” the release states. “Many of the cases were in young children.

‘“Children have become infected with Salmonella when parents keep the baby birds inside the house and allow their small children to handle and snuggle with them,” said Dr. Paul Ettestad, state public health veterinarian. “In other cases, parents did not wash their hands properly after handling the birds and gave the infection to their children indirectly.”

“This year, several other states are investigating Salmonella cases related to baby chicks. Ettestad said many chicks and young birds carry Salmonella in their droppings, and it is difficult to know if animals are carrying Salmonella because they will not usually show signs of illness.

‘“While there are many legitimate reasons to purchase baby chicks to raise for food, we are asking feed stores around the state to strongly discourage people from buying baby chicks as pets, especially if they have young children,’” Ettestad said in the news release.