ATLANTA (CBS Local) — With Halloween right around the corner, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is asking owners of chickens to not dress up their domestic livestock this year.
The warning may sound like a joke, but it is quite serious.
The Atlanta-based CDC says costumed chickens out for a night of trick-or-treating run the risk of infecting people with a particular potent strain of salmonella.
Since January, at least 92 people in 29 states have been infected after coming into contact with raw chicken products. 21 of the sick patients have been hospitalized, though no deaths have been reported.
Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain that generally last between four and seven days.
Lab results from the CDC show the strain is resistant to at least 13 antibiotics used to treat the infection.
“Live poultry might have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies (feathers, feet, and beaks), even when they appear healthy and clean,” the CDC said in a statement.
The CDC also urges people to not kiss the birds or snuggle them and always wash your hands with soap and water.
Despite the warning, some chicken owners said they aren’t about to leave dear ones at home on the big night.
“They’re a part of my family,” said Stephanie Morse of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, told KNOE.
“It’s just about hand hygiene. After you touch them, when you go inside, make sure you just wash your hands and you watch where you step,” she says.