Chickens can carry Salmonella & Campylobacter--can ducks? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Someone (little Quacker, I think) posted that ducks don't have the internal parasites that chickens do. Does this mean that ducks don't pass on *any* nasty diseases/infections to humans?? I'm really interested in the answer, because we spent nearly $1,000 two years ago when our youngest son was infected with Campylobacter, probably from our chickens. These were gimpy and otherwise sickly chickens we'd been given by a friend who raises them for Pilgrim's--we won't do that again! I wonder, if I hatch out my own and free-range them, as I do, how great the risk is of getting sick, as compared to commercially grown chickens.

Anyway, if ducks are less of a health risk, I'd consider having ducks and no more chickens.

-- Elizabeth in E TX (, July 17, 2001


Waterfowl CAN transmit salmonella. We got rid of all our geese and ducks when we learned they can pass it to the dairy goats and that it would get in the milk, unless you have enough fences and facilities to keep them all separate, but on a small homestead farm different species often have to share pastures. We keep the chickens separate from the goats to avoid passing salmonella and cocci. There has been much heated debate concerning cross species contamination of cocci, but better to be safe than sorry.

In my opinion, ducks are much dirtier than chickens. At least with chickens they won't be trying to swim in the goat's water and pooping in it! Water fowl are just that: foul!

-- Skip Walton (, July 17, 2001.

Hi, Elizabeth. You can get disease from any animal going as far as I know. I know for sure ducks can get Listeriosis. So do cows, so do white tailed deer (they are the general carrier of listeriosis into a dairy herd). But is it LIKELY. No, I don't think so, if you take reasonable precautions, like keeping the place reasonably clean, etc. It's quite easy to vaccinate cows, etc. against diseases and you should do so. With poultry, if I see a duck that looks off shade, if they aren't perking up within a few days they get the ax. It's very rare that I've had to do that, though. I've been around animals both mammals and poultry (primarily ducks and geese) for all of my life and I've never gotten sick. I've never seen a duck in a stock tank, either, but my ducks have their own watering areas that they prefer to stay in, and when the tank is two and a half feet off the ground they aren't too interested in it, I guess. They certainly are not foul!!! They are only that way if you keep them in those conditions. Ducks are cute, funny, and loaded with personality. (Not to mention darned tasty!) Don't miss out on them! I understand your concern with a kid that's gotten ill from an animal borne illness, but don't let it keep you from having ducks.

Jennifer L.

-- Jennifer L. (Northern NYS) (, July 17, 2001.

Got to agree with Jennifer on this one -- all species of livestock and wild critters can harbor some disease that will transmit to humans under some circumstances. The same is true for all our pet animals, as well.

Campylobacter is an organism that causes gastro-intestinal infection. We humans acquire it by eating undercooked chicken or drinking contaminated milk and water. Infection usually leads to fever, cramps, and bloody diarrhea. Erythromycin is usually used to treat it. It's unlikely that your youngster got his gastric problem from just being around chickens, even sick chickens -- he had to introduce it to his mouth in some fashion. One of the most common ways that germs get "into" us, is by doing something outdoors, and then NOT WASHING OUR HANDS before we eat. Not saying that your youngster did this, but this is a very likely route.

The lesson for homesteaders is this: healthy critters carry fewer diseases. Remove or quarantine any that are ill. Wash your hands every time you come back in the house!

Anita Evangelista

-- Anita Evangelista (, July 17, 2001.

Any poultry can carry salmonella and camphylobacter. Ducks can share many of the parasites and germs that chickens do. Sanitation is the key. The history on your son is a prime reason I reccommend the homestead life to many others. Only by eating healthy, unprocessed and less refined foods can the body maintain a decent amount of immunity to the vagaries of life. We're seeing more and more instances of children and adults that are unable to defend themselves against the germs in the environment because their immune systems are compromised. With all our food additives, excess refinement of foodstuffs stripping it of vital nutrients, exposure to a myriad of environmental chemicals, genetic engineering of the food supply,and excess use of antibiotics in doses and dosage times designed to encourage the developement of resistant strains... Man has unfortunately made his environment one that is gradually more and more deadly to himself. The wholesome homesteading life is our only defense against further deterioration. Enjoy your country home and realize that if you only obey a few general rules of sanitation, the wholesome way of life your are striving for can only benefit your family with better mental and physical health. Don't be afraid of any kind of poultry, just maintain a clean environment and wash your hands frequently. I'll get off my soapbox now. By the way, since your boy probably needed antibiotics to regain his health, I'd probably add lots of yogurt and an oral probiotic to his diet for awhile to help reestablish his microbial defense population and optimize his immune defenses if he were mine. My mother had a bout with candida last yerar stripping her immune system down and such (she's a diabetic which makes her prone to harbor too much yeast). Such supplements have helped her immensely. Hope all goes well for you and yours from here on out. Love.

-- Sandra Nelson (, July 17, 2001.

Thanks all for your responses. I should add that my son was about 15 months old at the time and playing in the backyard a lot with free range chickens all around. We never ate any of these chickens but the children played with them as they were quite tame. The infection route may have been via the soil--hand to mouth, or directly from handling a chicken. At the age that small children constantly put things in their mouth they should probably not be around poultry to play with them. I wash my hands constantly, but a 15-month-old is hard to corral! I am not afraid to keep chickens but will not get the sickly ones from our friend again.

-- Elizabeth in E TX (, July 17, 2001.

As I read this thread, I'm wondering if you folks realize that fowl and farm critters have been raised for eons without killing off half the population! In fact, farm/ranch folks are a lot more healthy than city folks.

Don't purchase stock that's obviously ill nor from auctions, shows and swap meets and you'll keep your stock healthy.

-- ~Rogo (, July 18, 2001.

Ducks are water critters so they do need there water space. I have never had to worry about my ducks being messy or going in the chicks feed or water. Where ever you feed your animals is where you will most likely have the most mess. So if concerned feed your animals far enough away from where people walk. I have 25 chickens and 65 duck that free range. I also have six children in all the years i have never had a problem. Good Luck!!!

-- paul miller (, July 19, 2001.

In Australia (and I suspect many others countries) wild ducks which are over-crowded due to hunting pressure can create aquatic environments (read ponds or other shallow water) which are totally overrun with salmonella. This can be a major cause of them "mysteriously" dying in droves.

So ... this means that they are already infected, and that they can be infected. Just like other poultry. Basically, keep things as clean as you can, and don't have animals of any sort living and eating in sh.. ahm.. manure, erhh - droppings. Shun feedlots. Shun intensive farming.

-- Don Armstrong (from Australia) (, July 19, 2001.

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