Can "healthy" chickens spread disease?


8 Years
May 20, 2011
Southern Utah
I'm a new chicken mom and a friend of mine is wanting to get chickens and we were wondering...

Can seemingly healthy chickens spread any sort of disease to humans? My kids love holding the chickies but we don't *always* wash our hands right after. Is there anything to be concerned about?

I'm sure vigilant hand washing would negate any issues, but with 4 year old twins on the go, I don't always get that far that quickly! Thanks in advance!
Yes, people can get salmonella and E coli from chickens. Good hand washing habits minimize the risk. I teach my kids to sing Happy Birthday twice while scrubbing after handling our chicks, which is more important in our house because I have an immune deficiency and can get infections a lot more easily than healthy people.
Hi and
heres a link to some information...
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Oooooh, another good link to add to my collection. Thank you.

On a side note, I have had salmonella and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. It was horrible! I didn't eat for three weeks, I was constantly in a lot of pain, and I couldn't be awake for any more than about four hours a day. It took doctors three weeks to figure out what I had and another week before the meds kicked in. I lost 15 pounds in two weeks because of it. Effective, yes, but definitely not worth it! And to add insult to injury, the Health Department calls to harass you about it when they find out, and they will find out because your doctor has to report it.
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I am wondering if I may have contracted e. coli from my chickens. I have been diagnosed with it in a urine sample I submitted after a particularly painful bladder infection. There are two possible places I could have gotten it: from a colonoscopy that went awry when the doctor pricked my colon and I subsequently lost a lot of blood into my abdominal cavity. Then there's my chickens, 2.5 years old. They haven't been laying eggs for 9 months or so; sometimes they'll lay a shell-less egg. I always wear latex gloves when handling their poop, and wash my hands when I come inside. Has anyone out there with chickens come down with an e. coli infection?
I have never had an E Coli infection. I had a JG rooster that became overun by E Coli bacteria. All chickens have E Coli bacteria. It's when it gets out of control and takes over their system is when it becomes deadly for them. Expansion of the bacteria is caused by stress...any kind of stress. The stress in this situation involved the rooster moving from one habitat to another long distance, a new coop, new surroundings and quarantine away from hens that he knew were nearby. If caught early with high powdered antibiotics such as baytril and high powered probiotics, it can be brought under control. It requires long and drawn out treatment which is not only time consuming but costly. The poop is green/yellow runny diarrhea. They act lethargic, dont eat, but seem to drink normal. They have to be tube fed the antibiotic, probiotic and feed...a liquid type mash.
To find out why my JG rooster was sick, I took a fresh fecal sample to my vet who sent it off the the University of Georgia Vet School to be analyzed. It came back positive for E Coli infection. It is not contageous to other chickens unless the fecal matter is eaten or infected parts are eaten. I would imagine the same would be true in order for humans to contract E Coli from chickens. I handled my infected rooster during the ordeal and I'm still here. I always wash my hands after handling chickens anyway, it's good common sense to practice hygiene and sanitation in conjunction with biosecurity. When cleaning the coops, I always wear double masks, double plastic disposable gloves and goggles. It's very hot wearing that stuff and I wear a sweat band. I hope everything works out for you and I wish you the best. Good luck.
ETA: Here's a link to poultry diseases that are transmittable to humans:
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