First and foremost, I had no clue that chickens were affectionate creatures, but apparently certain breeds like the Brahma and Silkie chickens, enjoy being pet and held. This makes them a welcomed addition to petting zoos and backyards. However, if you like to snuggle with your feathered friends, we have some fowl news for you.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has put out yet another warning to folks that  poultry are not play things. In fact, their official statement is: "Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them." While this may seem silly, they have reported 219 illnesses, 27 hospitalizations, and one death across 38 states as of June 9, 2022. Texas has the highest rate of cases out all of the Southern states.

Salmonella outbreaks are no joke, with the bacteria causing diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps. While rare, an infection can be fatal. Interestingly enough, the highest group of those infected were women, who made up over half of those impacted.

Photo by Afra Ramió on Unsplash

Additionally, children under five constituted 26% of the infected individuals. The CDC does not recommend kids under five have contact with poultry. If you do allow your kids to play with chickens, make sure that you are thoroughly washing their hands. Moreover, as hard as it can be, they need to keep their hands away from their faces when they are in contact with these animals.

For those with chickens at home, it is best to keep them in a separate area of the backyard to limit exposure. Furthermore, handle eggs with care, collect them often, and do NOT wash them. The CDC notes that "colder water can pull germs into the egg." This also makes proper cooking imperative. While these plucky creatures can make eggs-cellent friends, it is best to limit your snuggles to your dog or cat.

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