Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Erie Times E-Edition Article-CDC recommends public stop kissing chickens

Posted by M. C. on August 8, 2021

Garret Roberts Beaver County Times USA TODAY NETWORK While they may be cute, giving your chickens a quick ‘peck’ on the head has some negative side effects.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a warning for chicken owners, advising them to avoid ‘chicken kissing.’ Based on the rising numbers of salmonella in the United States, it is advised that those with chickens as pets or those raising poultry practice increased safety around their birds.

According to the CDC, there were 163 poultry-based cases of salmonella as of May. From those infections, 34 people were hospitalized from the illness.

While the most common spread of salmonella is through meat, the increased number of chickens as pets has led to an increase in the spread from live birds. Last December, 1,700 cases were linked to backyard flocks throughout 2020.

One way to avoid infection from the pets is to leave poultry outdoors. When caring for chickens requires them to come inside the house, it is important to keep the birds away from food preparation areas.

‘We have had chickens hatch in the house in the past using an incubator,’ said Donnie Gallagher, who raises Serama show chickens near Sandusky, Ohio. ‘The goal is to get them into the barn as soon as temperatures are safe to do so.’

While healthy-looking birds may appear safe at first, they can carry the infection and transmit the illness to vulnerable individuals such as children under 5 or adults above 65 with a weakened immune system. Chickens should be kept away from areas where the salmonella infection can spread to these populations, especially in vulnerable settings such as daycares, schools, hospitals or nursing homes.

Additionally, those tending to their flock should wear a separate set of clothing to handle chickens, wash the coops with chemical disinfectants and make sure to wash their hands after working around the birds.

While the opportunity to snuggle with the birds may seem appealing, staying safe can prevent the infection from spreading to those who may not be able to battle salmonella.

‘Backyard poultry projects can be fun for the whole family, when operating under safe and monitored conditions,’ said Emily Shoop, a Penn State extension educator who focuses on the poultry science field. ‘By all means, hold, talk to, spend time with and enjoy your backyard flocks. Just be sure to wash your hands, and please don’t kiss your chickens.’

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