Photo: Andriy Onufriyenko (Getty)
Everyone should know that plenty of Americans get salmonella every year, 1.2 millions a year to be exact according to The Centers for Disease Control. But that’s mainly because people sometimes intake food that has traces of feces from a salmonella-infected animal.
According to Dr. Megin Nichols, from the CDC, in 2017, 23 percent of the people who reported contracting salmonella from homegrown chickens had recently kissed their chickens (seven percent) or snuggled them (16 percent).
Here’s what Nichols has to say:
“When chickens poop or excrete any fecal matter, it gets in the dirt and dust. Although the chick might look healthy and clean, and people want to kiss and snuggle it, the chick does have germs and people can get sick that way.”
Chickens don’t actually show outward signs of being contaminated, since long-ago adaptations mean the bacteria doesn’t harm them. Often, humans come into contact with salmonella as they clean coops or gather eggs. Then, after touching their mouths or faces, ingested germs can cause fever, diarrhea, and in severe cases, death.
Recently, the surging popularity of backyard coops has resulted in more instances of salmonella illnesses and outbreaks. According to Nichols, people new to owning chickens might not be aware of the hazards of cuddling. Last year had the highest number of salmonella cases from poultry ownership yet, with more than a thousand people reporting getting sick across 48 states and the District of Columbia. Plus, Nichols says, the CDC estimates that only one in 30 cases of salmonella are reported, meaning the problem is much larger.
Nichols also adds that it’s important to keep chickens outdoors where they belong. You know, if you’re not eating them.
So while Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and while you might be single, I think it’s best you keep away from hugging your chicken. Now chocking your chicken is something else entirely you can do. And that’s how you end things on a classy note, folks.