It's time to establish some boundaries, people.
Last month, the CDC warned us to stop snuggling our backyard feathered friends—i.e., chickens—but some of us just didn't listen. Salmonella infections have more than doubled since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told poultry owners to keep their hands to themselves, with a whopping 790 salmonella cases reported.
Of those 790 cases reported, 409 people copped to cuddling—or at least touching—their chickens without taking the proper safety precautions, reports the CDC, which is now tracking 10 different salmonella outbreaks in 48 states and Washington, D.C.
Thankfully, no deaths have been reported to the agency, but a salmonella infection can make you very sick. Since June 1, the CDC knows of some 174 victims who have been hospitalized because of salmonella symptoms, and there could be even more.
Symptoms of a salmonella infection run the gamut from diarrhea to abdominal pain, dehydration, and fever. And illness can last anywhere from four to seven days.
Of course, not all of the salmonella infections reported can be linked back to people getting too close to their backyard poultry. But with more than half of victims saying they've touched their chickens within a week of getting sick, it seems a lot of people have a real problem with, um, boundaries. And the CDC only expects the problem to get worse, as more people continue to purchase live poultry for backyard flocks.
"Regardless of where they are purchased, live poultry may have salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies, feathers, feet and beaks even when they appear healthy and clean," the CDC warns in its new report. And remember, "germs can also get on cages, coops, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam."
That's why the CDC recommends that people who own chickens wash their hands after any encounter—or, you know, where protective gloves—as well as any shoes or clothing that came in contact with the chickens' area after you've handled them.
It should go without saying, but just in case: you also shouldn't let chickens live in your home, and you shouldn't take your lunch break out in the coop, the CDC says.
Lastly, "do not snuggle or kiss the birds," the CDC warns. That's what pets are for.