At least 181 people in 40 states have been infected in a major salmonella outbreak in the US, and many of the cases have been caused in part by people getting a little too friendly with live poultry such as chicken and ducks.
According to a report made by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “86 percent of the 95 ill people who were interviewed reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness bag … [Many] reported kissing or cuddling with their live poultry.”
The report notes that such affectionate behaviors increase the risk of contracting salmonella.
No deaths from the outbreak have been reported, but 33 of the infected have been hospitalized.
For those who do keep poultry, the CDC recommends thoroughly washing hands with soap and water after touching them or anything in the area that they roam. The agency also advises against letting live poultry into the house.
However, salmonella is usually contracted from eating or handling food infected with the salmonella bacteria rather than from getting up close and personal with a live chicken. The CDC recommends cooking meat thoroughly, using clean utensils to prepare meat and washing hands and surfaces that come in contact with raw meat thoroughly. The agency also notes that breastfeeding helps protect infants from salmonella and other diseases.
Though the chickens that carry the disease may not exhibit any symptoms, salmonella can cause fever, diarrhea and cramps in humans. Though most people recover from the disease on their own, salmonella can potentially lead to death if left untreated. According to CDC estimates, salmonella causes 1.2 million illnesses and 450 deaths in the United States every year.