Those fuzzy chicks and ducklings popular in Easter baskets can spread deadly salmonella to children, federal health officials said.
Researchers at the federal Centers for Disease Control have long suspected live poultry could pass salmonella to people, but its study published Thursday was the first to prove it, said Dr. Eric Mintz, a CDC expert in preventive medicine.Ducklings and chicks should not be kept as household pets for infants and young children, the CDC said.
The risk can be reduced if the pets are kept outside and people wash carefully after handling them, Mintz said.
"But you can't stop kids from putting their hands in their mouths, and getting them to wash their hands each time is quite a task," he said.
The danger is in the feces of the poultry. Chicks and ducklings often lose control of their bowels when picked up.
Ducklings and chicks are the latest pets the CDC has linked to salmonella's spread. The list also includes turtles and iguanas.