BOISE, Idaho — Do not kiss or snuggle your chickens. You read that right. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is issuing guidance, as it deals with an ongoing salmonella outbreak.
There have been over 1,003 cases of salmonella reported to the CDC nationwide just this year; and at least 9 of those cases are here in Idaho. The CDC says contact with backyard poultry and improper hygiene are likely to blame.
“The CDC estimates that for every confirmed diagnosis of, um, salmonella in a human, there are probably upwards of thirty, um, cases that don’t get reported,” said Dr. Bill Barton, State Veterinarian for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.
The Centers for Disease Control says laboratory evidence indicates that contact with backyard poultry, such as chicks and ducklings are likely the source of these outbreaks.
“The most common method of transmission is through contact with the animal with your hands or snuggling or kissing,” said Barton.
Hence the warning from the CDC, “don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.” That is just one recommendation among a list of others.
“A lot of people like to bring their chickens inside the house, um, not a great idea,” said Barton.
In addition, don’t walk inside your house in the same pair of shoes you just took care of your chickens in.
“Salmonella can easily be tracked in on shoes,” said Barton.
While the most common spread of the disease is through direct contact, salmonella can also be spread through the air.
“Any kind of supplies that you use with your poultry, we recommend you clean those outside,” said Barton.
And use good hygiene. Wash your hands immediately following contact with the backyard poultry, preventing further spread of the disease.
When it comes to eggs, Barton recommends washing the eggs and making sure you are cooking them to the correct temperature.
Chickens can be carriers of the disease without displaying symptoms, so it is important to always wash your hands regardless.
So far this salmonella outbreak has claimed the lives of two people, one in Ohio and one in Texas.
The CDC says it’s affecting people from ages 1 to 99, and just about a quarter of those people are children under 5.
Children and seniors who take medicines that lower the body’s ability to fight germs shouldn’t handle or touch chickens.