Six Washingtonians, including a Clark County resident, have been sickened by Salmonella Typhimurium, which officials say they believe is linked to wild songbirds, such as pine siskins.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday reported 19 cases of salmonella in eight states – six in Washington, including one each in Clark, King, Lewis, Kitsap, Spokane and Thurston counties. Three Washington cases have required hospitalization, according to a state Department of Health news release.
Salmonella germs can spread between species of birds, to pets and to people. Wild birds can carry the germs.
Symptoms of salmonella include fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain; in severe cases, salmonella can be fatal. Infants, young children, the elderly, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system are at greater risk, the health department said.
People should not touch or hand-feed wild birds, and should clean their bird feeders or bird baths weekly or whenever they are dirty, according to the health department.
The CDC provides these instructions for disinfecting your bird feeder or bird bath:
• Clean your bird feeder outside when possible. Do not clean feeders in your kitchen or places where food is prepared or stored.
• Scrub feeders with warm soapy water to remove dirt and rinse with clean water.
• Soak in a bleach solution (nine parts water and one part bleach) for at least 10 minutes.
• Rinse with water to remove any remaining bleach solution.
• Let it dry before refilling it.