PSA: Stop Snuggling with Your Chickens

updated May 30, 2019
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(Image credit: Boiko Olha)

Chicken cuddlers, be warned: The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) is advising you (once again) to avoid spending too much time cozying up with your live poultry. It’s a real issue with a real health hazard.

According to the CDC, those snuggling with winged animals (like chickens and ducks) are responsible for salmonella outbreaks. Specifically, eight outbreaks in at least 47 states have been linked to”contact with live poultry in backyard flocks.” And, of the 372 reported cases of salmonella — symptoms include fever, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting — since January of this year, 71 have resulted in hospitalizations.

(Image credit: Susmita Baral)

Data Source: CDC

“Chickens actually have salmonella naturally and they don’t get sick from it, but humans do, and the main symptoms are diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain,” Robert Glatter, a medical doctor, told New York’s Fox affiliate in 2015.

As such, the government agency is calling on poultry owners to “not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.” Sound intuitive? Fair enough. But since half of those infected since January have admitted to getting handsy with a winged bird, it’s a fair declaration on the part of the CDC.

The CDC advises washing your hands after coming in contact with live poultry. Those with weakened immune systems should avoid physical contact with live poultry entirely. As for eggs, the agency says to avoid washing them since water can pull the bacteria into the egg through the shell. Instead, opt for using fine sandpaper, a brush, or cloth.