CDC Issues Warning Amid Salmonella Outbreak: Don’t Cuddle Backyard Poultry


You’ve probably received advise against washing raw chicken or thawing meat improperly to protect against Salmonella and other food-borne illnesses. But the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) has issued a new warning: don’t cuddle backyard poultry.

According to a recent investigation, more than 1,000 cases of Salmonella have been reported from 49 states this year. The CDC also found a link between outbreak strains and individuals coming in close contact with backyard poultry from several sources such as hatcheries, agriculture stores and websites. Further, six of the outbreak strains making people sick have been identified in samples collected from backyard poultry environments at people’s homes in California, Minnesota and Ohio and from retail stores in Michigan and Oregon.

Chickens can even carry the disease without showing any visual cues, the CDC reports. People can contract Salmonella by touching backyard poultry or the places where they live and roam.

Follow these tips to stay healthy while living with your backyard flock:

  • Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching backyard poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
    • Adults should supervise handwashing by young children.
    • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not readily available.
  • Don’t let backyard poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
  • Set aside a pair of shoes to wear while taking care of poultry and keep those shoes outside of the house.
  • Children younger than 5, adults aged 65 and older, and people who have health problems or take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs and sickness shouldn’t handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other poultry.
  • Don’t eat or drink where poultry live or roam.
  • Don’t kiss or cuddle backyard poultry and then touch your face or mouth.
  • Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for poultry, such as cages, or feed or water containers.

At this point you’re probably wondering who in the world would actually kiss backyard poultry, let alone cuddle with them?!

But I was just as surprised as you to find out folks kissing their chickens is no weirder than snuggling with your dog. I’ll just let you chew on that for a while..

During the past few years, Salmonella outbreaks have been tied to contaminated cucumbers, pre-cut melon, chicken, eggs, pistachios, sprouts and raw tuna. The CDC recommends separating raw meat and eggs from other items in your fridge, and always wash cutting boards, utensils and plates with warm, soapy water. For additional safety tips, go to the CDC website.

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