As salmonella outbreaks sweep the US, the CDC is imploring Americans to ditch a bizarre, popular annual tradition: stop dressing up your pet chickens in Halloween costumes.
The agency says that live chickens carrying the bacteria are responsible for infecting many of the 92 people across 29 states, in addition to raw chicken products.
So far, 21 people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.
Lab results show that the strain is resistant to at least 13 antibiotics used to treat the infection.
The CDC has not been able to identify a single, common supplier, leading the agency to fear the strain may be widespread in the chicken industry – and that handling live chickens could result in even more cases.
The CDC is asking pet owners to not dress up their chickens in Halloween costumes amid a multi-state salmonella outbreak that has sickened 92 people across 29 states (file image)
After speaking to 54 of the infected people, the CDC said that 89 percent had either prepared or eaten ‘chicken products that were purchased raw, including ground chicken, chicken pieces, and whole chicken’.
One person became ill after pets in their home ate raw ground chicken pet food and another sick person lives with someone who works in a facility that raises or processes chickens.
This is not stopping everyone from making sure their pet chickens area ready for the holidays.
Stephanie Morse, of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, told KNOE that her fowl are dressed up in costumes every Halloween.
‘They’re a part of my family. It’s like they’re my babies. Some of them live right in the backyard,’ she told the station.
But the CDC warns that it is possible to get sick after coming into contact with harmful bacteria, including salmonella, on the feathers, feet, and beaks of live poultry.
‘Don’t kiss your birds or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth,’ the agency warns on its website.
But Morse says she likes giving her pets ‘personality’ and that she practices good hygiene to reduce the risk of infection.
‘Their bare skin is exposed. I just like to put a sweater on them to keep them warm and comfortable and some of them have more personality, and it’s good,’ she said.
Don’t kiss your birds or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
‘It’s just about hand hygiene. After you touch them, when you go inside, make sure you just wash your hands and you watch where you step.’
Salmonella infections occur after eating raw meat and eggs or foods that are contaminated with the bacteria.
Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain that generally last between four and seven days.
According to the CDC, salmonella is the cause for 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations, and 450 deaths in the US annually.
Most people can recover without treatment, although there are cases where antibiotics or IV fluids are needed.
Stephanie Morse (pictured), of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, says she plans to keep dressing up her pet fowl in costumes and that she will be safe because she practices good hygiene
The CDC has not issued a recall of any chicken products, but it is urging consumers to take safety precautions to avoid infections.
This includes washing hands, cutting boards, counters and utensils with hot water and soap after handling raw meat.
Forbes calculated that this incident marks the 16th outbreak of salmonella in the US this year.
In June, Kellogg voluntarily recalled its popular children’s cereal Honey Smacks, which has been linked to a massive salmonella outbreak that infected 100 people.
In July, Mondelez International recalled 16 varieties of Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits products over salmonella risks, with two people falling.
Last month, Gravel Ridge Farms in Cullman, Alabama, issued a recall of its eggs after salmonella was found in them.
An updated report released this month found 38 people in seven states were left sickened by the eggs.