Backyard chickens causing salmonella outbreaks, 9 cases reported in Florida

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Center for Disease Control has issued a warning that could ruffle some feathers. Backyard chickens are causing health problems and salmonella outbreaks. So far, there’s been nine cases in Florida and most times, health professionals say it’s preventable.

Tampa resident Athena Fox let News Channel 8 inside her chicken coop, but she did so with a disclaimer.

“Well, I don’t want to be like the crazy chicken lady, but we do love them,” Fox said.

Fox and her husband have more than 20 feathered friends.

“They’re neat to have. They provide you with company,” she said.

Company in the yard and sometimes even in the house. Fox said her love for birds has turned into a family affair.

“My grandson is the junior chicken whisperer, feeds them out of his hand, pets them and picks them up.”

While it may be fun, the CDC and healthcare professionals don’t advise it.

“Direct contact with these animals can cause an issue if you get them near your face. Keeping your distance from birds is a good idea,” said Warren Mcdougle, an epidemiologist manager.

You should want to keep your distance. Too much bird love in too close of quarters causes too many problems.

“Abdominal cramps, diarrhea as a rule, they can have some vomiting from time to time and they’ll have a mild fever,” said Mcdougle.

Fox says she’s never had a problem.

“We always make sure whenever the kids handle anything, we always have them wash their hands,” she said.

Healthcare professionals say it’s only a matter of time.

“A lot of the children and a lot of the people getting salmonella do in fact have their own chickens, because that is one of the questions we do ask in the interview process,” Mcdougle said.

For more ways to protect yourself against salmonella, visit the CDC’s website.

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