The eggsplosive trend of backyard chicken rearing shows no sign of slowing as urban homesteaders look to produce fresh eggs and enjoy the company of our feathered friends. But the uptick in chicken ownership has created some problems – a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control shows that our intimacy with chickens (and ducks, and chicks, and ducklings) has lead to an increase in Salmonella infections, and the advice from the CDC is clear: stop kissing birds.
According to the CDC, four large-scale outbreaks have infected 181 people with the outbreak strains of Salmonella across 40 states, and a whopping 86 percent of the 95 people the CDC interviewed had physical interaction with live poultry within a week of the onset of symptoms. The CDC reports: “Ill people reported purchasing live poultry for backyard flocks to produce eggs or meat, or to keep as pets. Many ill people in these outbreaks reported bringing the live poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry.”
The vast majority of the 1.2 million cases of Salmonella that occur in the U.S. each year are related to improper handling of raw and cooked poultry and can cause a range of symptoms including diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and even death.
The latest backyard chicken-related outbreaks have led the CDC to produce guidelines for those having interactions with live birds—you can see the full list here. Among the CDC’s recommendations are to wash your hands after handling birds, to not allow them into the house, to stop anyone under the age of 5 or over the age of 65 from handling them and to lower ones intimacy level. Yes, know your chicken, but don’t snuggle or kiss them.