The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday issued a nationwide warning that there have been outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to contact with chickens and ducks in backyard flocks in 44 states.

According to the CDC, 212 cases have been reported, including one in Maine. A total of 34 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported. The latest figures are accurate as of July 13. About 26 percent of those who were sickened were children under 5 years of age.

The CDC, assisted by state health officials, is currently investigating the outbreaks of salmonella infections. Several different types of salmonella have been identified.

People can become ill by touching live poultry or by entering their environment. Infected birds can appear to be healthy and show no signs of illness.

The CDC is advising people to always wash their hands with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in their environment. Children younger than 5 should not handle or touch live poultry without adult supervision. Shoes worn in a backyard poultry area should be kept outside the home.

North Carolina topped the list of salmonella outbreaks with 27 reported cases, followed by Wisconsin with 18.

Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. The illness usually last four to seven days, and most people recover without having to be hospitalized.

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