SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — The California Department of Public Health has issued a warning to residents about the risk of salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.

Many outbreaks in recent years have been linked to people keeping backyard flocks of chickens and ducks, state health officials said.

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Live poultry, particularly baby chicks and ducklings, may have salmonella in their feces and on their bodies even when they appear healthy and clean, according to state health officials.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 372 people in 47 states nationwide since the start of the year have been infected with various salmonella strains linked to live poultry contact, with 36 percent of the cases involving children under 5 years old. Those numbers include 21 California residents. Nationwide, 71 people have been hospitalized from the infections but no deaths have been reported, state health officials said.

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Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, fever and abdominal craps that usually begin 12 to 72 hours after infection. Most people recover within a week without treatment but some people, including young children, elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems, are at higher risk for more severe illness.

The Department of Public Health encourages people who have contact with live poultry to always wash their hands with soap and water after handling the animals, their eggs or anything in the area where they live in roam.

People should also prevent live chickens, ducks and geese from coming into their homes and should not allow children under 5 to handle live poultry or eggs without supervision and subsequent hand washing, health officials said.

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