Fresh eggs straight from your own farm is oftentimes much more appealing than going to the nearest store to pick up a carton of them, even if the package does say “organic.” While increased interest in raising chickens as a hyper-local food source is something to be applauded, there’s no denying inherent risks, such as bird flu and salmonella.
This year alone, 181 people in the United States have contacted salmonella, 33 of which had to be hospitalized. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attribute this outbreak to the handling of backyard poultry, NPR reports.
“While poultry do appear clean they do carry bacteria,” CDC veterinarian Megin Nichols told NPR. “We encourage that people live in their environments indoors and poultry stay outdoors.”
The CDC also recommends that those who handle chickens “wash hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where the birds live and roam, use hand sanitizer if soap and water are not readily available; if you collect eggs from the hens, thoroughly cook them, as salmonella can pass from healthy looking hens into the interior of normal looking eggs; clean any equipment or materials associated with raising or caring for live poultry outside the house, such as cages or feed or water containers; and if you have free-roaming live poultry, assume where they live and roam is contaminated.”
It has been reported that those who kiss and cuddle their chickens are at increased risk of contacting salmonella.