Don't be surprised if you hear clucking sounds as you walk through your neighborhood this summer. Chances are, one of your neighbors owns backyard chickens. The new trend is increasing in popularity because it's healthy, good for the environment and promotes emotional well-being.
Click here to watch CBN reporter Heather Sells explain why more city-dwellers are raising backyard chickens
However, as cute and cuddly as baby chickens are, it's dangerous to snuggle with them, as kids are prone to do. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting a dramatic rise in potentially deadly salmonella infection outbreaks due to the improper handling of backyard chickens, not just the chicks, but the fully-grown ones, too. Salmonella is a germ found on poultry and is easily transmitted to surfaces or other people.
This is particularly troubling for children whose immune systems aren't fully developed and the elderly, whose immune systems are often weakened.
Last year nearly 1,000 people were infected with salmonella, three of them died. This year is on track to be even worse. Already eight separate salmonella outbreaks linked to contact with pet poultry have taken place in the United States, sickening more than 370 people in 47 states and hospitalizing 71.
Symptoms of Salmonella infection:
- Abdominal cramps
The CDC says last year nearly half of the salmonella patients surveyed acknowledged "snuggling" baby birds, and about half also said they allowed their poultry in the house. Not good.
10 Ways to Reduce the Risk of Salmonella Infection
1. Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.
2. Adults should supervise hand washing by young children.
3. Use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available.
4. Don't let live poultry inside the house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.
5. Don't let children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65, or people with weakened immune systems from conditions such as cancer treatment, HIV/AIDS or organ transplants, handle or touch chicks, ducklings, or other live poultry.
6. If you collect eggs from the hens, thoroughly cook the eggs.
7. Don't eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
8. Avoid kissing your birds or snuggling them, then touching your mouth.
9. Stay outdoors when cleaning any equipment or materials used to raise or care for live poultry, such as cages or feed or water containers.
10. Buy birds from hatcheries that participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Poultry Improvement Plan (USDA-NPIP) U.S. voluntary Salmonella Monitoring Program. This program is intended to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in baby poultry in the hatchery, which helps prevent the spread of illness among poultry and people.