WICHITA, Kan. (AP) – If you really love your backyard chickens and all those fresh eggs, maybe you're giving your herd a little more attention – and a little cuddling and kissing.

Well, you better stop, warns the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
You could risk salmonella infection, the department said, and you would not be alone.

There is currently an outbreak of salmonella infections in several states associated with backyard poultry, the CDC said Monday, July 30.

By July 13, 212 people in 44 states were infected with salmonella, the department reports in an outbreak report. The illnesses all started between February 15th and June 21st of this year.

Of those infected, 34 were hospitalized and 26 percent were children under the age of 5. According to CDC, no deaths were reported.

North Carolina, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Florida, Minnesota, and Michigan all had at least 10 infected people. Many of the other states with multiple affected people are in the Midwest and Southern regions, including Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri and Iowa, the Wichita Eagle reported.

Of these patients, 72 percent of CDC people said they had contact with chicks or ducklings the week before their illness began.

The CDC recorded record-breaking backyard pelvic diseases in 2017 – 1,120 people in 48 states had been infected since 19 October 2017. One person died.

"With backyard herding growing in popularity, more people are in contact with chickens and ducks – and may not know about the risk of salmonella infection," the CDC said last year.

The investigation into the 2018 outbreak is ongoing, but the CDC has recommended "always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water" after being near poultry and their equipment – even if you did not touch the birds , The agency also said that children under the age of 5 are not allowed to handle or touch chicks, ducklings and other live poultry without supervision.

"Children less than 5 years of age more likely to germs such as salmonella."

Do not let poultry live in the house or where you eat and drink, the CDC said. The agency also advised to change shoes after taking care of your backyard flock

"Do not cuddle, kiss or touch your mouth to feed baby poultry."

Salmonella is a bacterium that can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, the CDC said. Each year, around 1.2 million people in the US become infected and 450 die of Salmonella. Foods are the source of about 1 million salmonella diseases and 380 deaths per year.

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