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. Jul-Aug 2015;130(4):380-91.
doi: 10.1177/003335491513000417.

A Framework to Reduce Infectious Disease Risk From Urban Poultry in the United States

Free PMC article

A Framework to Reduce Infectious Disease Risk From Urban Poultry in the United States

Molly R Tobin et al. Public Health Rep. .
Free PMC article


Objectives: Backyard poultry ownership is increasingly common in U.S. cities and is regulated at the local level. Human contact with live poultry is a well-known risk for infection with zoonotic pathogens, notably Salmonella, yet the ability of local jurisdictions to reduce the risk of infectious disease transmission from poultry to humans is unstudied. We reviewed urban poultry ordinances in the United States and reported Salmonella outbreaks from backyard poultry to identify regulatory gaps in preventing zoonotic pathogen transmission. Based on this analysis, we propose regulatory guidelines for U.S. cities to reduce infectious disease risk from backyard poultry ownership.

Methods: We assessed local ordinances in the 150 most populous U.S. jurisdictions for content related to noncommercial poultry ownership using online resources and communications with government officials. We also performed a literature review using publicly available data sources to identify human infectious disease outbreaks caused by contact with backyard poultry.

Results: Of the cities reviewed, 93% (n=139) permit poultry in some capacity. Most urban poultry ordinances share common characteristics focused on reducing nuisance to neighbors. Ordinances do not address many pathways of transmission relevant to poultry-to-human transmission of pathogens, such as manure management.

Conclusions: To reduce the risk of pathogen exposure from backyard poultry, urban ordinances should incorporate the following seven components: limited flock size, composting of manure in sealed containers, prohibition of slaughter, required veterinary care to sick birds, appropriate disposal of dead birds, annual permits linked to consumer education, and a registry of poultry owners.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Depiction of chick distribution network and pathways of pathogen transmission from poultry to humans in the context of backyard poultry ownership
Figure 2
Figure 2
Guidelines for urban backyard poultry regulations to reduce the risk of zoonotic pathogen exposure

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