Dear Cathy Cockatiel: I grew up with pet chickens, and I want my children to have the same joy and learn to take on more responsibility. My husband is concerned about disease. How can I persuade him?
Cathy Responds: Backyard chickens are affectionate, talkative, cheerful pets, and, unlike other pets, they contribute to making breakfast. Still, your husband has a point.
Chickens can spread avian influenza virus and disease-causing bacteria, primarily Salmonella and Campylobacter, to humans. Children under five, seniors, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems are at greatest risk and shouldn’t touch chickens or their habitats.
In humans, Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria cause bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fever. Avian influenza resembles other forms of flu in people.
To help your husband learn more about your hobby, suggest he consult www.backyardchickens.com and www.rodalesorganiclife.com/garden/everything-you-need-to-know-about-raising-backyard-chickens.
If you decide to raise chickens, guard against human disease by washing hands with soap and water after handling the chickens or poultry equipment. Hand sanitizer can be used until you can wash properly.
Because of the risk of infection, it’s important not to kiss your chickens.
Dedicate one set of footwear to interacting with the chickens, and don’t wear those shoes inside your home. Don’t take poultry equipment into your house.
Keep your pet chickens out of your home and away from the backyard patio where food is served. Similarly, don’t eat or drink in the hen house.