The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been criticized lately for its confusing messaging, but if there’s one thing they’re very clear about, it’s that you really need to stop kissing your live poultry.
The health agency clucked disapprovingly at Americans getting too comfortable with their feathered friends, tying it to an outbreak of Salmonella that has sickened 163 people and hospitalized 34 since mid-February.
“Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them,” the CDC said in a statement posted Thursday.
Backyard poultry, like chicken and ducks, can carry Salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean, the agency warned.
Other advice included maintaining strict hand-washing habits around the birds, discouraging children under five from playing with chicks and ducklings, maintaining clean coops and cooking eggs well.
The most common route of Salmonella infection is from eating contaminated meat, eggs, or dairy, or sometimes fresh produce that was hydrated with contaminated water.
Common symptoms include diarrhea, bloody feces, fever, cramping and vomiting. Tens of millions of cases are reported globally each year, but are only life threatening in rare circumstances.