MOUNT HEALTHY, OH (FOX19) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a multi-state salmonella outbreak has been linked to a Mount Healthy hatchery.
The CDC said 60 people in 23 states have become ill with 31 percent hospitalized, as of Wednesday. No deaths have been reported.
The outbreak of human salmonella infantis and salmonella Newport infections were linked to contact with chicks, ducklings and other live baby poultry from Mt. Healthy Hatcheries. The CDC said 82 percent reported contact with live poultry the week before their illness began.
Officials said the illnesses began between Feb. 4 and April 21. The ages range from younger than one year to 95 years. Forty percent are 10 years or younger.
Mt. Healthy Hatcheries said the company shares concerns about a salmonella outbreak and possible related illnesses.
"It is our understanding that an investigation is ongoing and that our hatcheries are being considered as a potential source of the outbreak," the company said. "Mt. Healthy Hatcheries is working collaboratively with authorities at the Ohio Department of Agriculture and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they proceed with their investigation."
Mt. Healthy Hatcheries sells chicks to feed and farm stores all around the country. The Ohio Department of Agriculture said around Easter is the hatchery's busiest time of the year when thousands of people purchase live chicks for pets or to display.
The outbreak strains have been reported from 23 states. The number of people identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arizona (1), Arkansas (1), California (1), Colorado (2), Georgia (2), Idaho (2), Indiana (1), Kentucky (6), Maine (1), Maryland (2), New Hampshire (1), New Mexico (1), New York (6), North Carolina (3), Ohio (6), Pennsylvania (8), Tennessee (3), Utah (1), Vermont (3), Virginia (3), Washington (1), and West Virginia (4).
Mt. Healthy Hatcheries also said disease prevention is a top priority.
"Our hatcheries are working with USDA on a voluntary salmonella reduction program, have increased bio security measures and are continuing to obtain counsel from an outside expert to reduce the risks of salmonella in our flocks," the company said.
"We are committed to providing safe, healthy chicks for our customers. We also urge consumers who purchase chicks or other poultry to follow the CDC guidelines on proper care and safe handling of those animals."
The Ohio Department of Agriculture said it has warned Mt. Healthy Hatcheries after the previous two salmonella outbreaks linked to their business to revise their shipping and storage procedures but are not sure the company is implementing its recommendations.
"The more accurate description of our relationship with that company has been we have tried to provide guidance through the years but I don't know how many of the recommendations that we have brought to them have actually been implemented," said Erica Hawkins, a spokeswoman with the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Hawkins said the department has no authority to force Mt. Healthy Hatcheries to change their processes but will once again provide guidance to limit salmonella contamination.
"We're trying to tell them what they need to do in order to keep this from happening every year," she said.
Read additional information about the outbreak at www.CDC.gov.