CDC to backyard coop owners: Chickens are not house pets

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Photo: Patrick Heagney/iStockphoto

Atlanta – Four recent outbreaks of Salmonella infections in multiple states have prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to remind poultry owners that the birds should not be snuggled, kissed or brought indoors.

As of June 29, 181 people in 40 states had been infected with strains of Salmonella, a bacterium that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. Thirty-three people were hospitalized.

CDC interviewed 95 of the ill people and found that 86 percent reported contact with live poultry before becoming ill. Some of the ill people reported purchasing live poultry for backyard flocks for eggs or meat, or to keep the chickens as pets, according to CDC.

“Many ill people in these outbreaks reported bringing the live poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry. These behaviors increase a person’s risk of a Salmonella infection,” CDC stated.

Live poultry may appear healthy but carry Salmonella bacteria. To reduce the risk of infection from live birds, CDC recommended the following:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching live poultry or anything in an area where the birds may roam.
  • Do not snuggle or kiss the birds, touch the birds with your mouth, or eat or drink around live poultry.
  • Bar live poultry from entering the house.

The recommendations apply to all live poultry, regardless of the birds’ age or where they were purchased.