In an effort to keep their food local, some city-dwellers have taken to raising chickens in their backyards. As urban farming remains trendy, an unintended consequence of keeping chickens as pets is a rise in salmonella cases. It’s led to an outbreak of the illness that’s impacting Idaho and the nation.
The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention say this recent outbreak of the bacteria started in February. Since then, more than 200 cases of salmonella have appeared in 44 states, including Idaho, and have sent over 30 people to the hospital nationwide. In the majority of cases, people reported contact with chicks or ducklings the week before the illness set in.
“Salmonella is just a risk that’s always there with keeping chickens,” says Karen Jarboe Singletary. She’s a resident of Boise and has four backyard chickens at the moment.
Jarboe Singletary says she maintains a strict regime of hand washing after she handles the birds, their coop or their eggs. Still, every once in a while, the cuteness of the animals gets to her.
“I hug them and pet them, but I don’t put my face in them,” says Jarboe Singletary.
That strategy matches up with suggestions laid out in an Idaho Department of Health and Welfare blog post earlier this year titled “Careful when you cuddle.” It recommends thorough hand washing, limited contact and minimal snuggling.
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