CDC to Americans: Don’t cuddle poultry unless you want salmonella

Don’t do it.
Don’t do it.
Image: Reuters/Jamal Saidi
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In case this wasn’t clear, you shouldn’t kiss a chicken. Or cuddle with it. Really, just don’t pick it up. That’s one message from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which put out a report last week on a salmonella outbreak happening in the US. There have been 181 cases of salmonella reported this year in the US, and 33 of those people have been hospitalized. No one has died.

Though salmonella usually resolves itself within a week or so, it causes diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and, in some cases, death, according to the CDC. It’s important to note that salmonella a very common illness, and you can get it from a lot of things—from eggs, from nuts, even being around pet bearded dragons.

The puzzling statement in this latest report, which is making the rounds in the media:

“Many ill people in these outbreaks reported bringing the live poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry. These behaviors increase a person’s risk of a Salmonella infection.”

Many people keep chickens as pets or for eggs, and 82 of the 95 infected people the CDC interviewed “reported contact with live poultry in the week before their illness began.”

Quartz asked the CDC just how many people reported cuddling with or kissing chickens, and a CDC spokesman said the government does not “have that level of data.”