Backyard chickens are getting people sick again

The CDC is investigating eight separate multi-state outbreaks of salmonella that have sickened nearly 400 people across the country. The cause, however, isn't an unsanitary factory. Instead, blame backyard chickens, or at least owners who underestimate the risk of getting too close, reports the Fresno Bee.

The growing popularity of having a home-grown source of eggs once again has federal officials issuing a warning. This year's numbers are about on par with last year's, when 895 people got sick.

While three people died last year, none have died this year, though 71 have ended up in the hospital. In all, people in 47 states have fallen ill.

Cuddling cute baby chicks appears to be a problem, notes the Washington Post. Last year, about half of those who got sick admitted to doing so, and about half also said they let their poultry in the house.

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Health officials say both practices are seriously unwise, given how easily chickens can spread germs. The hardest-hit state is Ohio, at 32 cases, with Kentucky, Tennessee, and California not far behind, reports

“Chicks, ducklings, and other live poultry that look healthy and clean can still carry Salmonella bacteria,” says the CDC, which offers a fact sheet on best practices here.

(Salmonella is no joke—just ask the Aztecs.)

This article originally appeared on Newser: Backyard Chickens Are Getting People Sick Again