(Dean Hanson/The Albuquerque Journal/AP)

A salmonella outbreak linked to pet poultry is happening right now in the United States.

Yes, pet poultry — chickens, ducks and the like. As of June 29, 181 people had reported illness linked to salmonella in cases that have popped up in 40 states.

The seemingly harmless trend of tending your food (or animal best friend) in your back yard has taken off in recent years. So too have cases of hugging and kissing these animals, apparently.

Don't take my word for it. This is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

Many ill people in these outbreaks reported bringing the live poultry into their homes, and others reported kissing or cuddling with the live poultry. These behaviors increase a person’s risk of a Salmonella infection.

...

No kidding.

Sure, the fresh eggs are a real plus. But there's also the very real possibility of illness linked to the animals. The CDC also warned that doing things like bringing live poultry into a home or failing to wash hands after having contact with the animals can contribute to illness.

"Chickens actually have salmonella naturally and they don't get sick from it, but humans do, and the main symptoms are diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain," Robert Glatter, a medical doctor, told New York's Fox affiliate.

"The main issue is that people just don't wash their hands after they handle them, especially children," added Glatter, an emergency medical physician at Lenox Hill Hospital. "So I am really against this; I think it's just not a good practice in general."

The animals sometimes come from mail-order companies that sell chicks and ducklings. An investigation into the multiple hatcheries that are the source of these birds is ongoing, the CDC said.

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