The CDC Is Begging People To Stop Kissing Their... Chickens?

by Julie Scagell

The CDC warns chickens can spread salmonella — even with a smooch

We’ve heard the stories about not washing your chicken in the sink because it can spray contaminants that could lead to people getting sick. And of course, we’ve heeded the warnings about cooking poultry all the way through to prevent salmonella. But now, the CDC has come out with a statement telling people to stop kissing chickens and we have so many questions.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a warning after a total of 1003 people have reportedly been infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella across 49 states. “Of 605 people with hospitalization information available, 175 (29%) have been hospitalized and two deaths have been reported, one from Texas and one from Ohio,” the agency said. “Of 850 ill people with age information available, 192 (23%) are children younger than 5 years.”

But what does this have to do with people kissing chickens, you may wonder? Well, it’s not as uncommon as you may think. A 2016 study from the CDC uncovered that flocks of people have apparently contracted salmonella from kissing their chickens. Of the chicken-related salmonella cases the CDC reported from 1990 to 2014, 13 percent of patients had contracted the virus after giving their chicks a peck.

Additionally, 49 percent of patients the CDC studied reported snuggling baby chicks, and 46 percent said they kept chickens in the house. Ten percent of respondents even admitted keeping their chickens in their bedroom. Listen, family is family. I actually have a friend who not only kept his chickens in his house, he made a yearly chicken calendar he’d send out to close friends and family of his chicks in various holiday-themed outfits. To each their own.

In all seriousness, salmonella is no joke. The bacteria can cause vomiting, diarrhea, dehydration, fever, and in some cases, death. In addition to not kissing or snuggling with your furry friends, the CDC cautioned all chicken keepers to wash their hands with soap and water after touching poultry or anywhere the animals have been or with an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. They also recommend not allowing your fowl friends into your house, especially in areas where food or drink is prepared, served, or stored.

This is especially timely as fall arrives and festivals including those adorable little ducks and chicks in petting zoos seem irresistible for little hands. Of course, everyone wants to pick them up and give them a cuddle and a squeeze but it may be best to just bypass altogether if you’re concerned or they don’t offer immediate access to soap and water stations.

Just when we thought the list of “things we can’t do” couldn’t possibly get any longer, now we have to add kissing chickens to the list. Old MacDonald would be spinning in his grave.