Illustration for article titled It's Your Mouth But Please Stop Kissing Poultry, says CDCPhoto: debasige (Shutterstock)

Look: we know we’ve heard a lot from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over the past year. What you should do? We lived during a global pandemic caused by a virus never seen before in humans and we all had / have to learn a lot.

But this week the CDC looked at a different type of social distancingwhich is apparently a problem enough that the agency decided it warranted its own investigation. We’re talking about poultry cuddling, of course. No, that’s not a typo (though Poultry smuggling is also a problem). Here’s what to know.

Chickens are not for cuddling

Salmonella outbreaks are currently reported in 43 states, resulting in 163 illnesses and 34 hospitalizations as of May 20. “You can get sick if you touch your backyard poultry or anything around them and then touch your mouth or food and swallow salmonella,” he said CDC explains in its investigation notice. And yes, “touching” includes kissing or cuddling your poultry.

If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because The CDC issued an almost identical warning exactly a year ago (almost to the day). And apparently we haven’t learned our lesson.

The CDC has issued the following guidelines to protect people with so-called “backyard herds” from salmonella:

Wash your hands

We should be pretty used to washing hands often by now, but they CDC has some poultry-specific instructions: “Always wash your hands with soap and water immediately after touching the backyard fowl, its eggs, or anything in the area where they live and roam.” If there isn’t a sink nearby, the CDC suggests using hand sanitizer and leaving some in the stall so it’s always on hand.

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Practice handling poultry safely

The best way to prevent the spread of poultry-borne infections is to avoid high-risk poultry behavior. “Don’t kiss or cuddle backyard poultry or eat or drink around them,” he said CDC explains. “This can spread salmonella bacteria in your mouth and make you sick.”

Keep an eye on the (human) children

Let’s face it, most American schools lack comprehensive education about poultry safety. Some children are simply not aware that, according to the CDC, poultry “can carry salmonella bacteria even if they look healthy and clean”.

Make sure children are supervised when they are around chickens and ducks. And if you are a parent, you should have an age-appropriate discussion with your children about responsibility for poultry.