Backyard chicken-keeping is on the rise, and the CDC now finds it necessary to warn people that puckering up to poultry is a big no-no. The warning comes via a study on the rise in salmonella outbreaks that found many urban chicken-keepers treat the animals as if they were pets. That means allowing them in the house and even snuggling and kissing them, even though birds that appear healthy can be shedding salmonella bacteria. The study, which looked at salmonella outbreaks between 1990 and 2014, found that 46% of people with "backyard" birds actually kept them in the house, and 10% had them in the bedroom, CNN reports.
CDC researchers say the most common cause of infection appears to be baby chickens and geese. They say more needs to be done to inform people that they should keep chickens outside the home, wash their hands after dealing with them—and avoid kissing them. "Backyard chickens can be a wonderful thing to have, but we're hearing about people kissing their birds, hugging their birds, bringing them close to the face, and treating them more like dogs and cats than farm animals," report co-author Casey Barton Behravesh tells Scientific American. "It’s very important for people to know that even healthy birds can carry germs that make people sick." (These vegetables cause more salmonella cases than chickens.)