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Stop kissing your chickens!

Apparently that’s a message the CDC wants people to hear…

And, apparently, they’ve said it for the last several years as salmonella cases rise.

In a recent investigation notice titled Salmonella Outbreaks Linked to Backyard Poultry, the health agency explained that domestic fowl like chickens and ducks can be salmonella carriers, so backyard flock owners should make sure to not “kiss or snuggle” these birds to avoid infection.

Salmonella is a bacterium transmitted through fecal-oral contact and often causes food poisoning. Infections in humans typically occur when a person comes into contact with an animal or object that’s been contaminated with fecal matter. 

Because of the way it’s transmitted, the CDC advises people not to eat or drink around backyard poultry because it could be possible for salmonella bacteria to land on food, liquids, or packaging, which would likely transmit the illness through someone’s mouth.

The CDC recently reported that the latest salmonella outbreak linked to contact with backyard poultry has resulted in one person’s death and 27 hospitalizations

As of June 9, 2022, the CDC found 219 salmonella cases in 38 states, which have been linked to backyard poultry.

“Illnesses started on dates ranging from February 15, 2022, to May 19, 2022,” the CDC wrote in a Salmonella: Investigation Details report.

The infected people’s ages ranged from 1 to 89, with 26% being children under five.

“The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” the CDC noted. “This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella.” 

They added, “In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 2 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak. 

The CDC says people should clean objects in close contact with backyard poultry, including feeding containers, and that people should immediately wash their hands after touching poultry, eggs, or any surface that’s in an area where these birds roam. Tools and supplies used to care for poultry should also be sanitized and kept outside the home, including feed containers and shoes. 

The CDC says Children under five should be kept away from chicks, ducklings, and other poultry. Yet, older children can be around backyard poultry while under adult supervision, but they should wash their hands after contact.

“Backyard poultry, like chickens and ducks, can carry salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean,” the CDC wrote in its investigation notice.

The agency says people should wash their hands if they touch an object or surface close to backyard poultry, including chicken coops. 

“These germs can easily spread to anything in the areas where the poultry live and roam,” the notice continued. “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.”

It’s hard for us to believe that actually needs to be said. Please, please, PLEASE! WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER TOUCHING LIVESTOCK!

The CDC and USDA say the salmonella outbreak investigation is still active.