Skip to main content

CDC warns not to kiss, cuddle backyard chickens due to salmonella outbreak

The agency has recorded more than 160 illnesses across 43 states.

A nationwide salmonella outbreak has been linked to backyard chickens, prompting the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a clear directive to affectionate chicken owners:

"Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry."

Close cuddles is one of the ways salmonella germs can spread, the CDC explained in its investigation notice. And of late, they've spread quite a lot, causing dozens of individuals to become sick.

The outbreak has sickened 163 people across 43 states, including Minnesota where there are three reported illnesses. Nobody has died, but the CDC has recorded 34 hospitalizations linked to the outbreak. The agency also noted this is likely an undercount, as many people can recover from a salmonella-related illness without medical care, and therefore were never tested.

Minneapolis, St. Paul, Duluth and Rochester all allow people to keep backyard chickens, if they acquire the necessary permit. And it's a trend that has become more popular.

In St. Paul for example, there are a total of 285 active backyard chicken permits, according to a city spokesperson. Minneapolis is at about 358 active coops, a spokesperson said.

Other cities have their own regulations as well - here's a partial list. The Minnesota Backyard Chicken & Poultry Facebook group has more than 12,000 members.

How salmonella spreads

Backyard poultry, including chickens and ducks, can carry salmonella germs even if they look clean, the CDC warns. Those germs get spread around everywhere the birds might go. Humans generally get sick by touching poultry or a germ-lined surface, then putting their hands on their mouth or food, resulting in that persons walling the salmonella germs.

Symptoms of salmonella infection, according to Mayo Clinic, include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

People usually get sick eight to 72 hours after picking up the germs. While healthy people usually recover quickly, often without treatment or with few symptoms, it can lead to dehydration or, in rare cases, "life-threatening complications" if the infection spreads beyond the intestines. 

While people usually feel sick for two to seven days, Mayo Clinic says "it may take several months before bowels return to normal."

What should chicken owners do?

The CDC has recommendations for poultry owners to avoid getting sick while it investigates the salmonella outbreak. In addition to ceasing all kisses and snuggles:

  • Wash your hands (or use hand sanitizer) immediately after touching the birds, their eggs, anything in areas they go.
  • Do not eat or drink while interacting with the chickens or ducks.
  • Keep an eye on kids who are near backyard poultry - and don't let children under 5 touch the birds.
  • Keep the backyard flock and related supplies outside the house.
  • Collect eggs regularly and often, so they have less opportunity to break or become dirty.
  • Clean the eggs with fine sandpaper, a brush or a cloth - don't use water, as colder water can pull salmonella germs into the egg.

Anyone experiencing serious symptoms - high fever, diarrhea lasting longer than three days or bloody diarrhea, inability to keep liquids down, dehydration - should call their doctor right away.

Next Up

FLickr - crime scene tape do not crozz

Charges: MN teen shot mom after dispute over meth

The girl's mother said there had been a dispute over methamphetamine.

bad roads, blizzard

No travel advised: High winds, whiteout conditions in NW MN

Zero visibility in parts of greater Minnesota Tuesday night.

holy angels high school j nelson

Update: Holy Angels evacuated over bomb threat, school says

Someone left a voicemail early Tuesday suggesting there was an explosive device.

radio station, microphone

Convicted stalker charged with harassment of another DJ at The Current

He pleaded guilty to similar charges involving the DJ's colleague back in 2015.

Mall of America exterior Tyler Vigen Wikimedia COmmons

10 new shops, food stops at Mall of America

Donuts, K-fashion, model cars — the new tenants cover a lot of bases.

Gophers basketball

Gophers fall below roster minimum, postpone Penn State game

It is "due to internal COVID-19 protocols within the Golden Gopher program."

Raheem Morris

Report: Vikings request interview with Rams' Raheem Morris

Morris was once the youngest head coach in the NFL at 33 years old.

train crossing S Boardman Ave, New York Mills, Minnesota - August 2013 crop GSV

Sheriff: Drunk driver crashed trying to 'beat the train'

The BNSF train slammed into the side of the driver's car.

ambulance

Man run over after parking dispute leads to road rage crash

The two groups fought about parking prior to the crash.

hwy 41 engler boulevard crash crop

Deadly crash shuts down small stretch of Chaska highway for hours

A driver crossed over the center median and hit another vehicle.

covid test 6

You can now order 4 free at-home COVID tests from the government

Tests will ship for free within 7-12 days, according to the White House.

covid-19

Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Tuesday, January 18

Minnesota has reached 11,000 COVID-19 deaths.

Related

salmonella

CDC: Minnesotans sickened by salmonella from unknown food source

Minnesota has reported the second-most cases so far.

Salmonella outbreak linked to chicken from church-run pop-up pantry

There's nothing wrong with the chicken – it's just that people have been eating it uncooked.

onions

23 Minnesotans infected with salmonella linked to onions

Four of Minnesota residents were hospitalized. None have died.

Screen Shot 2020-08-19 at 8.16.50 PM

Salmonella outbreak in Minnesota linked to fresh peaches

Twenty-three people have been sickened in the outbreak.

Salmonella outbreak linked to Honey Smacks spreads to Minnesota

A recall was first issued in July, but it has continued to spread.