Pandemic life has resulted in lots of unexpected hobbies and trends lately… One of those trends is having backyard chickens, possibly as a new side hobby to fill time while social distancing is in full effect. I guess if you can’t hang with your friends, why not hang out with chickens? They’ll never judge you for wearing the same pajama pants for a week straight, plus provide the benefit of having an endless supply of eggs right there in your back yard. It’s a win-win right? Not exactly. Having a coop of these feathered friends has resulted in an unexpected side-effect – Salmonella outbreaks.
As if we don’t already have our hands full with COVID-19, now over 900 people in 48 states have been infected with salmonella. Public health officials have interviewed over 400 people who recently fell ill with salmonella, and 74% of them said they’d had contact with chicks or ducklings. Reported cases of salmonella began to spike toward the end of March, partially due to the fact that spring is when poultry farming is most popular. Yet there are even more cases in 2020 compared to previous years, possibly because it is now trendy to have them as pets. If you are going to have a coop in your yard, here’s what you need to know to keep yourself and your kids safe.
Chickens and ducks can carry salmonella in their digestive tract, and while it doesn’t harm them, it can cause diarrhea, fever, and painful cramps in humans. It’s more than just their droppings that you need to avoid coming into contact with… their feathers and eggs can have carry bacteria too.
Don’t get me wrong, chickens and ducks are so cute and cuddly looking, who wouldn’t want to snuggle them? But you really shouldn’t, as you could be exposed to the bacteria lingering on their feathers. Egg handling should also be done very carefully. The CDC recommends frequently washing your hands thoroughly after handling your birds, or any objects in their environment, like eggs. Since we’re living the pandemic life nowadays, we should all be experts on handwashing at this point. If you have chickens, remember it’s not just COVID-19 you’re trying to avoid, but salmonella too!