Think twice before handling baby chicks

I made a trip to my local Blue Seal store on Thursday to pick up dog food. As I walked through the door, the gentle peeping sounds of dozens of fluffy baby chicks filled the air.


I was just about to sneak my finger into one of the enclosures to pet their darling little heads, until I remembered a Tweet (no pun intended) I’d seen earlier in the week from Maine CDC.


Many Mainers purchase baby chicks in the spring, but even healthy-looking chicks and ducklings can carry Salmonella. I know, sorry to rain on your Easter parade. Kids in particular are at risk, since they’re more likely to handle chicks and then touch their mouths, plus their immune systems are still developing.

Salmonella bacteria carried in poultry intestines can contaminate their environment and the surface of their bodies, according to the U.S. CDC. Even if they look clean, feces might be lingering on their feathers and beaks. Not so cute now, huh?

In a recent blog post, health officials offered a few tips.

Keep kids from getting sick by making sure they:

  • Don’t put their hands in their mouths after touching chicks
  • Don’t kiss chicks on their beak or feathers
  • Don’t handle or clean cages or food containers
  • Don’t eat or drink near baby chicks
  • Don’t put their mouths on objects that have been near chicks or their cages

Children younger than five should not handle baby chicks. If they do:

  • Keep chicks out of the kitchen and other living areas
  • Wash children’s hands thoroughly with plenty of running water and soap after contact with chicks
  • Contact your health care provider or go to a clinic if your child has diarrhea or vomiting

For more information, visit

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Jackie Farwell

About Jackie Farwell

I'm the health editor for the Bangor Daily News, a Bangor native, a UMaine grad, and a weekend crossword warrior. I never get sick of writing about Maine people, geeking out over health care data, and finding new ways to help you stay well. I live in Gorham with my husband Nick and our hound dog Riley.