Lots of people have had to learn the hard way. Baby chickens and ducks sure are cute, but in almost every case, they are a poor choice as an Easter time gift for a kid. They are hard to properly take care of. They require lots of attention and care to keep alive. And maybe worst of all, they carry some nasty germs that can mess up your kid’s day. Or a few. And some poultry-borne illnesses can kill you. Touching and kissing chicks makes it all the easier for germs to transfer and cause sickness. PetMD raises a number of issues for parents and guardians to review.

The Centers for Disease Control has a multi-page web entry about the problems associated with purchasing and raising poultry. Right off the bat, the CDC does not suggest baby chicks or ducks as good household pets. Of course, a lot of people raise chickens for food and their egg-laying capabilities. But their care requires special focus and particular precautions for kids who may be around them.

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The State of Michigan’s Health and Human Services Department is sending out a media release on the topic this week. The Department stops short of saying don’t purchase them to bring home, but it does offer a number of cautions about baby chicks and ducks. Among them; “Children under 5, elderly adults and those with weakened immune systems should not touch or handle chicks.”

The department says outbreaks of Salmonella poisoning happened nationwide and more than 6 dozen individual cases were documented in Michigan last year., all associated with poultry. “In 2020, there were 17 nationwide outbreaks of Salmonella illness linked to contact with live poultry, causing illness in 1,722 people in 50 states. Of these illnesses, 24% were children younger than 5 years of age. Michigan reported 73 cases, and 18 cases (25%) were in children under the age of 18 years.”

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