The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been warning people to stay away from kissing or snuggling chickens amid the ongoing salmonella outbreak that has affected more than 50 people in 21 states so far.
Last week, public health officials said that the current salmonella outbreak is due to “backyard poultry.”
Since May 10, there have been 52 cases across 21 states, with Missouri, Pennsylvania and Ohio amongst the largest numbers. The salmonella outbreak started sometime earlier this year and those who were affected included children less than one year, according to the CDC.
Nearly 20% of people who were infected by salmonella were hospitalized; however, there have been no deaths reported.
Health officials said that 23 out of 33 people interviewed about the infection had contact with chickens and ducklings before getting sick.
The agency released a list of precautionary measures people should take when handling the backyard poultry to prevent the infection. One tip read, “Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.”
Other tips included washing your hands thoroughly after handling backyard chickens and ducklings and not letting them inside the home, particularly where food is cooked.
The CDC also mentioned that children below 5 and adults above 65 should stay away from handling “chicks, ducklings, or other poultry” altogether. Signs and symptoms of salmonella infection include fever, chills, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps up to 72 hours after the invasion of bacteria. The disease may last up to 4 to 7 days, while the most serious cases needing hospitalization, the CDC said.