People Are Getting Salmonella From Touching Live Chickens

The United States is currently experiencing one of the biggest salmonella outbreaks in the nation's history — and according to an assessment from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these sicknesses are likely coming from touching, feeding, or playing with live chickens.

There have been 961 cases reported this year alone, 215 of which have resulted in hospitalization. Only two U.S. states have remained safe from the plague of nasty salmonella, with Virginia being the state most affected — as of Aug. 11, 56 cases of the disease had been reported in the Old Dominion alone. In 74 percent of cases nationwide, those afflicted with the disease recalled having come into contact with live poultry during the week before symptoms began.

We thought you could only get salmonella from the meat of dead poultry, but apparently the animals are just as dangerous alive. Bad news for farmers and nature-lovers alike, the outbreak has been linked to physical contact with live, backyard poultry.

The CDC advisory released on August 21 warned people to wash their hands thoroughly after touching live chickens or ducks. We hoped people were doing that already — after touching any live animal, I'd be rushing to the sink for soap.

The CDC says that poultry can harbor a salmonella infection without exhibiting visible symptoms, and that young children should not be permitted to come into contact with poultry without close supervision.

As cute and fun as it is to own backyard farm animals, maybe save the chicken raising for Old McDonald. Or at least keep the birds out of your kitchen — it's already grosser in there than you might think.