‘Don’t kiss or snuggle your chickens’: CDC warns of Salmonella outbreaks linked to backyard flocks

There are currently 163 cases of Salmonella in the U.S., health officials say

Generic image of chickens and a rooster. (Pixabay)

As much as you may want to snuggle up close to your backyard chickens, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that’s not such a good idea.

Although your chickens may appear healthy and clean, the CDC issued a warning Friday, saying that some Salmonella outbreaks could be linked to having close contact with them.

Currently, there are 163 cases of Salmonella in 43 states in the U.S. and 34 people are hospitalized, according to the CDC’s website. No deaths have been reported.

Those who have come down with Salmonella range in age from less than one to 87-years-old, with a median age of 24 years, according to the CDC.

“You can get sick from touching your backyard poultry or anything in their environment and then touching your mouth or food, and swallowing Salmonella germs,” the CDC said in a statement on its website.

Health officials said some cases of Salmonella have gone unreported, as it usually takes two to four weeks for the CDC to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.

Most people that are infected will have symptoms such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps and recover within four to seven days without treatment, the CDC said. However, if you start experiencing any of these symptoms listed below, the CDC said you should contact a healthcare provider right away:

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
  • Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
  • Bloody diarrhea
  • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
  • Signs of dehydration, such as:
    Not urinating much
    Dry mouth and throat
    Feeling dizzy when standing up

And, besides refraining from kissing or snuggling your chickens, the CDC says there are a few other measures you can take to help prevent an outbreak.

  • Wash your hands
  • Keep your chickens and their supplies outside to prevent germs from spreading indoors
  • Don’t let children younger than 5 years touch chicks, ducklings, or other backyard poultry, as they’re more likely to get sick from germs.
  • Be careful when handling eggs

You can learn more about these safety tips for caring for backyard chickens, and learn more about Salmonella by visiting the CDC’s website.

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About the Author:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.