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CDC begs backyard poultry owners to stop kissing their chickens in wake of Salmonella outbreak

Published Sep 16th, 2019 11:34PM EDT
kissing chickens
Image: David Micha Sheldon/imageBROKER/Shutterstock

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You don’t have to live on a farm to raise chickens, and so-called “backyard poultry” operations have steadily risen in popularity across the United States in recent years. For those who know what they’re doing, owning birds like chickens and ducks and provide a steady source of food, but the risks of raising livestock in your own back yard are significant. Now, the CDC says it’s amassed over 1,000 reports of Salmonella infection related to such operations.

In a new update to an existing bulletin, the CDC says it’s collected another 235 cases, bringing the total count over 1,000, including 174 hospitalizations and two deaths across 49 states.

When preparing chicken as a meal, everyone knows that the meat has to hit 165 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off any potentially troublesome bacteria. However, it seems like backyard poultry owners have quickly forgotten that even just handling a live bird can transfer Salmonella bacteria to their skin, and the CDC is now emphasizing that any contact with chicken or ducks should be treated as a potential source of infection.

The long list of tips provided by the CDC for “Backyard Flock Owners” includes always washing your hands once you’ve touched a bird or handled anything in their living area. Owners are also advised to avoid eating in areas where the birds roam free, and even wear special shoes when taking care of the birds and keep them outside the home at all times.

There’s also the somewhat humorous suggestion that owners avoid kissing their birds, with the CDC recommending against snuggling them or touching your face or mouth after handling them. This is especially important when it comes to young children who may see the birds as pets, rather than a food source, as a Salmonella infection can be particularly dangerous when a child is a victim.

If you have birds in your own backyard, these are things to keep in mind, and be sure to give the CDC’s full bulletin a read to ensure you’re not overlooking some basic hygiene tips that could ultimately save your life.

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