Don’t Kiss Your Chicks: CDC Warns Pet Poultry Snugglers May Run Afoul of Good Health


Jacksonville, FL — ATLANTA, Ga. - More than one hundred Americans have been infected with Salmonella this year in an outbreak that is being linked to backyard poultry.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says no deaths have been reported as of this posting, but 33 people have been hospitalized.

Salmonella Outbreak Map 
United States Cases as of May 24, 2024
Graphic Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention May 2024

In a written release, the CDC says that almost half of those affected are children under the age of five.

Missouri is the state hardest hit by infection thus far, with 19 cases reported. Texas and Oklahoma follow, with 14 and 11 cases, respectively.

Salmonella is a contagious bacteria that is easily spread. Many people who are infected will not experience symptoms. Others may experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach aches after exposure.

Can salmonella be fatal? “It can, but it’s rare.” That is according to Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. In an article entitled, “How Dangerous is Salmonella” on the school’s website, Registered Dietician Liz Weinandy says, “There are over a million cases of salmonellosis in the United States each year that result in roughly 400 deaths. The CDC estimates there are 15.2 cases per 100,000 people in the United States.”

To avoid it, the CDC recommends doing the the following:

  • Wash your hands immediately after touching backyard poultry, their eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.
  • Supervise kids around flocks. Young children are more likely to become very ill from Salmonella.
  • Don’t kiss or snuggle backyard poultry, and don’t eat or drink around them. This can spread Salmonella germs to your mouth and make you sick.
  • Handle eggs safely.
  • Call you healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing any severe symptoms of Salmonella.

The CDC says Salmonella can be present even in chickens that are healthy and clean.

Chicken Eating Photo Credit: Kristine Bellino

Although uncommon, the CDC says there are some potential long term effects of Salmonella exposure. For some, “bowel habits...may not return to normal for a few months. Some people with Salmonella infection develop pain in their joints, called reactive arthritis, after the infection has ended.”

For more information, and the answers to some frequently asked questions about the infection, visit the CDC’s website.

Kristine Bellino

Kristine Bellino, News 104.5 WOKV

Kristine Bellino is the Co-Host of Jacksonville’s Morning News on 104.5 WOKV. Born in New Jersey, Kristine grew up in North Miami Beach, Florida and is now proud to call Saint Augustine home.

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