Raising backyard chickens is becoming a popular option for people all across the country, but the Centers for Disease Control is warning people to play it safe so they don’t get sick.

The CDC says backyard chickens have sickened people in 44 states so far this year, including five in Alabama, 11 in Florida, and two in Mississippi. 

The CDC is advising people not to hug chickens because doing so could spread illness like salmonella. Health leaders say the birds should also be kept away from any area where food or drinks are prepared.

Eight years ago, Tiffany Steele started raising chickens, along with turkeys and guineas. All the birds here are free range, which means they are rarely confined. 

“I’ve had her about seven years now. She lays a blue egg every few days or so because she is old,” said Steele. 

Steele has safety protocols in place to protect her family and her flock, including handwashing, cleaning her boots, and frequently cleaning the areas where the birds live. 

“I keep my animals clean, happy, healthy. That is part of farm life you just take care of the animals and make sure that they are OK.” 

Raising the birds here at home is something she’s passionate about as she tries to make sure her daughters know where their food comes from. 

“Reduce, reuse, recycle is a good thing I have here on the farm. Nothing goes to waste.”

You can read the full report on the CDC’s website.