Press Release
Public Health


Handle Backyard Chicks and Ducklings Safely

Kittitas County, WA - 03/27/2018 - With the arrival of spring, the Kittitas County Public Health Department (KCPHD) wants to remind residents to use precautions when handling backyard chickens and ducklings. Even when baby birds look healthy, they may have germs like Salmonella, which can be on the bird or on cages or other things the bird touches.

In addition to Salmonella, poultry also carry Campylobacter.  Both Salmonella and Campylobacter have symptoms of diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and a fever.  In Kittitas County, there were six reported cases of Salmonella in 2016 and 7 in 2017.  One of the cases in 2017 was in a young child, where handling chicks was likely the source of infection.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, “after you touch a duck or a chick, wash your hands, so you don’t get sick.”  Further safety precautions include:

  • Don’t nuzzle or kiss chicks or ducklings.
  • Keep chicks and ducklings out of the kitchen and family living areas.
  • Do not use the kitchen sink to clean cages or water and feed containers.
  • Chicks and ducks are not appropriate pets for children under 5 years old. 
    If you think you have an illness as a result of handling chicks or ducklings, please contact your healthcare provider.  For more information or printable materials on safe handling practices, please visit  To speak to the Kittitas County Public Health Department, please contact KCPHD at 509-962-7515.

Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at


Contact: Kasey Knutson, Public Information Officer, 509-962-7515