'Cute but risky?': Feds warn about backyard chickens
Raising birds in your backyard sounds wholesome and harmless enough, but the feds say it’s making people sick.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Aug. 9, 2013
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Raising chickens in your backyard sounds wholesome and harmless enough, but the feds say it’s making people sick. There’s a nationwide warning, but some are crying fowl.
The birds are like feathery friends that keep on giving right in your backyard.
“The eggs, of course,” said self-proclaimed chicken rancher Noel Patterson. “They're beautiful to look at.”
But the CDC ask on their website: Are these birds "cute but risky?"
The federal agency reported backyard flocks -- including chickens -- are behind a number of salmonella outbreaks.
So far this year, the agency’s identified 125 cases of people infected by the birds with salmonella. They’re in 26 states including Arizona. No one's died.
This comes after “the largest outbreak of human salmonella infections linked to backyard flocks in a single year occurred," according to the CDC. That was 2012.
The symptoms including vomiting, fever and diarrhea.
The warning’s ruffled some feathers in Tucson.
“It seems like an overreaction,” Patterson said. “There is no need to take these extreme precautions to prevent something that is incredibly unlikely to happen.”
“I would rate the overall salmonella from backyard chickens as far as its threat to humanity goes as being pretty low,” the backyard birder added.
So, what’s behind the outbreaks? The CDC pointed in part to the growing number of newbie backyard birders who don't necessarily know how to safely handle these gals.
Enter the "chicken diaper."
It's part of a trend of people treating chickens like pets, going as far as welcoming them into their homes.
Health officials insist hens should be kept outside.
“Is there any case where it's OK to bring the chicken into your home?” KGUN9 News reporter Kevin Keen asked Michael Acoba, epidemiology program manager at the Pima County Health Department.
“Other than in a bucket from Kentucky Fried Chicken?” Acoba laughed.
No laughing matter: the ever-so-simple way to protect yourself.
“We want to stress to folks: the big thing is wash hands after you play with chickens,” Acoba said.
The CDC provide safety more information for owners of live poultry.