As of March 30, 2021, a total of 19 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium have been reported from eight states (see map). Illnesses started on dates ranging from December 26, 2020, to March 16, 2021.
Sick people range in age from 2 months to 89 years, with a median age of 16 years, and 63% are female. Of 17 people with information available, 8 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
Wild songbirds, such as pine siskins, can be found throughout the United States, so this outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
State and local public health officials are interviewing people about the animals they had contact with in the week before they got sick. Of the 13 people interviewed, 9 (69%) reported owning a bird feeder and 2 (15%) people reported contact with a sick or dead wild bird. Ten people have pets that had access to or contact with wild birds.
WGS showed that bacteria from sick people’s samples are closely related genetically. This means that people in this outbreak likely got sick from contact with the same source.
Officials in Oregon and Washington collected samples from sick or dead wild pine siskin birds. WGS analysis showed that the Salmonella from the pine siskins are closely related to bacteria from sick people.
On April 1, 2021, CDC issued an investigation notice about this outbreak to remind people to not touch or hand-feed wild birds with bare hands and always wash hands after touching wild birds, bird feeders and bird baths. Clean and disinfect bird feeders and bird baths weekly or when they are visibly dirty.