Chickens in the House is Nothing to Brag About

Chickens in the house? Really? This is not a practice I would boast about to the world, yet I see pictures every single day online. Chickens wander around kitchens, sitting on the back of couches, and looking in the back doors and windows of homes. The list goes on and on.
Chickens are not house pets, and though SO MANY people allow their mature chickens in the house, I consider this practice a potential health risk, and irresponsible to say the least.
The rule of thumb is to keep a clean area between chickens and your living space.  That means chickens don’t belong in the yard, on the patio, where children play, or anywhere that family traffic is common. Chickens should have their own area outside. They are NOT companion animals like dogs and cats, and shouldn’t be allowed the same indoor perks.
Why is This so Important?
It’s common for chickens to carry Salmonella, which is a type of germ that naturally lives in the intestines and is shed in their feces. Live poultry may have Salmonella germs on their bodies (including feathers, feet, and beaks) even when they appear healthy and clean. The germs can also get on coops, hay, plants, and soil in the area where the birds live and roam. Additionally, the germs can be found on the hands, shoes, and clothing of those who handle the birds or work or play where they live and roam.
Each spring, children become infected with Salmonella, but it’s important to remember that the illness can occur in chicks or adult birds at any time of the year. Children are exposed to Salmonella by holding, cuddling, or kissing the birds and by touching things where the bird lives, such as cages or feed and water bowls. Young children are especially at risk for illness because their immune systems are still developing and because they are more likely than others to put their fingers or other items into their mouths.
How Common is Salmonella?
CDC estimates that approximately 1.2 million illnesses and approximately 450 deaths occur from Salmonella annually in the United States alone.
And Furthermore…  Shame on Manufacturers
It doesn’t help that chicken diapers and clothes are being marketed. These items are made simply because people will buy them. Nothing of the sort makes it safe to allow chickens indoors… nothing.

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Salmonella and Poultry

If you’re a poultry keeper and not concerned with salmonella, you should be. Here are the facts and how to protect yourself and your family. Salmonella is a type of bacteria that is carried in the intestines of animals and can be shed into the environment. People typically become infected after eating contaminated foods or from contact with animals or their environments.
Fact:  Chicks, ducklings, and other poultry are a recognized source of Salmonella.
Exposure to Salmonella
People get sick from Salmonella by hand-to-mouth contact. Usually, this happens when people handle birds or their droppings and then accidentally touch their mouths or forget to wash their hands before eating or drinking. Even birds that do not look sick may be shedding Salmonella. And even though a bird looks clean, it may still have germs like Salmonella on its feathers or feet. Salmonella can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and fever. Occasionally people become sick enough to need to see a doctor or be hospitalized. Most people develop symptoms 1 to 3 days after being exposed to Salmonella and recover in about a week. Some people are more susceptible to infection and will have more severe disease. These people include young children, pregnant women, the elderly, people on chemotherapy, diabetics, and others with weakened immune systems.
Do not let children less than five years of age or others at high-risk handle poultry or items contaminated by poultry. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling poultry or their droppings. Do not eat or drink around poultry or their living areas. Do not let poultry live inside your home. Do not wash the birds’ food and water dishes in the kitchen sink.
Disinfectants for Good Poultry Housekeeping
Roccal®: Mix 1/2 fluid oz of Roccal per gallon of water.
Nolvasan® (chlorhexidine diacetate 2 percent): Mix
3 fluid oz of Nolvasan per gallon of water.
Household bleach (sodium hypochlorite 6 percent):
Mix 3/4 cup of household bleach per gallon of water.
Lysol® spray for footwear
Purell® hand pump for hand disinfection

Source: United States Department of Agriculture, USDA

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