Safe Handling of Baby Chicks and Live Poultry

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Contact with live poultry (chicks, chickens, ducklings, ducks, geese and turkeys) can be a source of germs and infections, even if a bird appears healthy and clean.

The germs can spread to you from a bird, its droppings, or to anywhere the bird or its droppings have been. You can get sick if the germs come into contact with your mouth, eyes or nose.

There are things you can do to help keep yourself, your family and birds safe!

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything around where birds have been.
  • Adults should help children wash their hands.
  • If you can’t wash your hands right away, use hand sanitizer until you can wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Children under 5, the elderly, and people with weak immune systems shouldn’t handle/touch live poultry.
  • Keep your face away from the chick. Don’t snuggle or kiss the birds.
  • Keep your hands away from your face while handling chicks, and until you have washed your hands.
  • Keep live poultry and poultry equipment outside your home, and away from places where people eat or make food.
  • Handle only one chick at a time. Hold the chick with both hands, but be careful not to squeeze.
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For more information about the content of this document, contact Ana Ulmer-Franco.
This document is maintained by Joan St. Amand.
This information published to the web on May 20, 2015.
Last Reviewed/Revised on June 5, 2017.