"The infant child in Eddy County was not hospitalized," said Kenny Vigil, media relations for the health department.
State health officials say the salmonella outbreak is linked to baby poultry. In addition to Eddy County, the other cases were reported in Curry, Lea, Luna, Otero and Taos counties.
The health department reported four of the cases were in infants age 13 months or younger, and two of the children were hospitalized. The department is warning families to keep baby chicks or other baby birds out of their homes and use caution in order to avoid salmonella infection.
State health officials said salmonella infection is especially risky when parents keep the baby birds inside the house and allow their small children to handle and snuggle with them. Other cases can occur when parents don't wash their hands properly after handling the birds, indirectly giving the infection to their children.
"Salmonella infection in young children can be a very serious illness, sometimes fatal," said Department of Health Secretary Retta Ward. "We are urging families that have recently purchased baby birds to not allow them inside their home where they contaminate the environment and potentially infect people, especially children." Early symptoms of salmonella in people include fever, diarrhea and abdominal pain.
These symptoms develop one to three days after exposure to baby chicks and their droppings. Other symptoms might include nausea, chills or headaches. Dr. Paul Ettestad, Department of Health public health veterinarian, said salmonella is often present in the droppings of chicks and other baby birds, even though the animals themselves usually won't show signs of illness.
"That makes it easy for people to let their guard down," he said. "That's when they run the risk of getting salmonella."
He said an increasing number of people around New Mexico are choosing to keep live poultry, such as chickens or ducks, as part of a greener and healthier lifestyle. He said while they enjoy the benefits of backyard chickens and other poultry, it is also important to consider the risk of illness, especially for children, which can result from handling live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.