CDC: Backyard chickens causing salmonella outbreaks

TYLER, Texas (KETK) - Many East Texans enjoy raising and growing their food. Backyard chicken coops are also popular. But the Centers for Disease Control says these yard birds could be causing salmonella outbreaks.

"My pet makes me breakfast, and I just love that," East Texan Celia Tucker said.

Tucker is one of many East Texans with a chicken coop in her backyard.

She's had them for three years and has never had any problems. But the CDC reports that 961 people tested positive for the disease this year in 48 states, stemming from handling live poultry.

"It kind of is a reflection of the great movement of urban farming that's taking place right now across this country and people growing more food in their backyards and raising chickens, which is a wonderful thing," Micro Family Farms owner Mike Loggins said.

It's wonderful thing, if done properly.

Tucker makes cleanliness a top priority. She says the most important thing is that you wear your coop boots and that you wash your hands after handling the chickens. She also leaves her boots and equipment outdoors.

It's also important to keep the chickens well-kept too.

"Cleaning them and making sure they have a very clean place to live and to lay eggs," Tucker said.

Micro Family Farms keeps their birds in bottomless pins so they can free range without living in their manure.

Loggins says the benefits outweigh the risks.

"I don't want the public to be discouraged in any way, shape or form about [the CDC's report]," Loggins said. "They need to be encouraged to it because these eggs are super, super nutritious."

The eggs should also be handled carefully.

"They come out with a protective coating and so if you wash the coating off it's kind of when the bacteria can get in, so we don't wash that coating off and refrigerate them," Tucker said.

That's so a hobby does not become a health risk.

The CDC reports 30% of the illnesses this year were in children, so it's important to make sure your little ones are washing their hands.

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