State health officials want to warn parents of the possibility of children becoming infected with salmonella by touching baby chicks or ducklings.

"Easter season is associated with gifts to children of baby chicks or ducklings," said Julie Schlegel of DHEC’s Division of Acute Disease Epidemiology. "We encourage parents and loved ones to reduce the risk of illness by not giving children chicks or ducklings at Easter. A safer gift option is a stuffed toy."

"To meet the demand for young animals during the Easter season, chicks and ducklings are hatched and shipped in mass quantities," said Schlegel. "The stress on the animals increases the likelihood of shedding salmonella bacteria, which can infect people, especially children."

"Anyone who touches a bird should immediately wash their hands."