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'Don't Kiss Or Snuggle The Birds': CDC Tracking Outbreaks Of Salmonella Linked To Backyard Chickens

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Cases of Salmonella in California and 42 other states are on the rise from the use of backyard poultry, according to the CDC.

PIEDMONT, CA - NOV. 21: Jamie Griffith, 6, cuddles his chicken Elsa at his home on Saturday, November 21, 2020, in Piedmont, Calif. The Griffith family has five chickens that were named after "Frozen" characters. Wire mesh makers are sold out of fencing. Chick suppliers can't keep fluffy baby birds in stock. During the pandemic, more people have turned to urban chicken keeping, building backyard coops and buying birds to start their flocks. Jamie's mom, Amy Griffith, is one of those new chicken keepers. (Yalonda M. James/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)

The ownership of poultry apparently skyrocketed during the pandemic. More people who suddenly had time on their hands during lockdown decided to start a backyard farms, others simply wanted to save money on poultry products, while still others sought them as pets to help keep loneliness at bay.

The result of that pandemic trend has been 163 people have contracted salmonella from 43 states. California was one of the hardest hit states with nine cases.

A total of 34 people were hospitalized, but no deaths were reported. However, the CDC believes the number of people who may have been sickened from contact with a backyard chicken is likely higher as many people recover without medical care and are not tested for salmonella.

According to the CDC, backyard poultry can still carry salmonella germs even if they look healthy and clean. Tips to stay healthy while keeping a backyard coop include washing hands thoroughly after touching the flock or its supplies, keeping them outside, not allowing children younger than 5 years old to touch the birds or anything in the areas where they live and roam. People should also not kiss or snuggle poultry, because it can spread germs to the mouth.

Salmonella symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps after being exposed to the bacteria and can last up to seven days. Children younger than 5, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.

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