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Health officials get involved amid the backyard chicken craze

Chickens pose a risk of salmonella infections.

Amid the rising popularity in Minnesotans raising chickens in their yards, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is stepping in to warn of possible poultry-related illnesses. 

The MDA listed simple steps to avoid salmonella infections, of which there have been 84 cases in Minnesota and 2,267 nationwide the last three years. It doesn't sound like much, but the MDA describes it as a "large nationwide outbreak." 

Here are tips to avoid getting salmonella from your backyard chickens:

  • Don't let the chickens in your home. 
  • Use the same footwear when entering a chicken coop. 
  • Don't eat or drink around the birds.
  • Don't cuddle with them. 
  • Wash your hands after touching them. 
  • If a bird gets sick, take it to a vet to avoid spreading the illness. 

"Young children are especially at risk for illness because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths and because their immune systems are still developing," the Minnesota Department of Health says

Just as important, the MDA says, is buying poultry only from licensed dealers. 

Speaking of licenses, every city in Minnesota has rules and regulations for keeping poultry at your home. In Minneapolis, for example, a permit is required. You can Google your city's rules pretty easily. 

There are a lot of benefits to raising chickens. Not only do they produce fresh eggs, but they're also a natural form of pest control and great for garden compost. 

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