If you own a pet chicken, you’d better stop snuggling with or kissing her, according to a notice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that seeks to prevent salmonella outbreaks.
One area chicken owner says that although most of the guidelines issued by the CDC are common sense, her family will continue holding their three chickens. After all, they’re pets.
“If she’s on my lap and I’m petting her, that may be our one rule that we buck,” said Lacy Hansen, whose family has three chickens. “We definitely don’t kiss them, but we do hold them.”
The CDC advisory, posted June 1, warns about salmonella outbreaks linked to backyard chickens potentially causing diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. As of May 25, 372 people infected with salmonella had been reported from 47 states this year.
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Advice for flock owners includes always washing your hands with soap and water after touching the chickens, not letting live poultry into the house and not eating or drinking where the birds roam.
And those pieces of advice – along with not kissing your chicken – are things Hansen agrees with wholeheartedly.
“We recognize and always have from the beginning how important it is to wash your hands after touching them,” Hansen said.
In her house, anyone who handles a chicken must wash their hands before coming back indoors. When the chicken coop is cleaned, a shower usually follows immediately. The chickens are not allowed inside the house.
The three chickens, named Buckley, April Roberta Ludgate-Dwyer (called April) and Henrietta, are much more social than the Hansens expected when they purchased the hatchlings two years ago.
Whenever someone goes outside the Hansen’s College Hill home, Henrietta insists on sitting in the person’s lap.
“She loves the attention,” Hansen said.
The CDC writes that outbreaks linked to contact with chickens have increased in recent years as more people keep backyard flocks. Other advice includes not letting children under the age of 5 or adults over 65 handle chickens.
Perhaps people are not taking precautions with their chickens, Hansen said, or are treating them like cats and dogs, complete with house privileges.
“More than anything we just kind of chuckle,” Hansen said about notices telling chicken owners to wash their hands and not kiss their birds. “Isn’t that common sense?”