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INDIANAPOLIS — Don’t want to get salmonella? Don’t kiss or cuddle your pet chicken, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC says a salmonella outbreak that has sickened 52 people in 21 states is linked to contact with backyard poultry.

Nearly half of those infected told the CDC they got sick after handling ducks, ducklings, chickens or chicks. 

People can get sick with salmonella from touching poultry or their environment, according to the CDC. These birds can carry the infection but appear healthy and clean.

If you keep poultry in your yard or on your farm, the CDC says there are a few things you can do to stay healthy:

  • Don’t kiss poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.
  • Always wash your hands after handling live poultry.
  • Don’t allow poultry inside your house, especially in areas where food or drinks are prepared.

The CDC suggests people under five and over 65 avoid handling chicks, ducklings, or other poultry altogether.

Salmonella is a bacterial disease that affects the intestinal tract, according to the Mayo Clinic. Symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps within 72 hours of exposure. The infection lasts four to seven days and most people recover without needing medical treatment.

(Photo by Fuse/Thinkstock.)