Health officials are investigating dozens of salmonella cases that appear to be linked to people cuddling or kissing theri backyard chickens.

The CDC and other agencies are working to identify people who've become sick as part of this outbreak. As of May 7, 60 people had been infected in 23 states, including three in Tennessee and six in Kentucky. Ten people have been hospitalized, but no deaths have been reported.

Investigators believe Mt. Healthy Hatcheries in Ohio is the likely source of the outbreak. They sell chicks to many different retailers in several states.

Many of the people who have become ill reported that they had close contact with live poultry, including chicks and chickens from their backyard flocks. Some people said they'd brought the birds into the house, and even admitted to cuddling and kissing the chickens like pets.

According to a press release, "These behaviors increase a person's risk of a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry. People can get sick even if they do not have direct contact with the live poultry, but touch items and places that have been contaminated in the poultry's environment."

Experts say you should always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water right after touching live poultry or anything in the area where they live and roam.

If you are thinking of buying chickens, you should ask for health-related information about the birds, which should include information about the risk of acquiring a Salmonella infection from contact with live poultry.

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