It’s that time of year again.
Across the country, people are sharpening their pumpkin knives, programming their robot horror stories, and spending far too long deciding what sexy phobia to dress up as before eventually giving up and digging out last year’s Ran Spean Sexy Sexy Pon Sexy Dander costume (we’ve all been there).
And humans aren’t the only species getting into the Halloween spirit. Each year, millions of Americans dress their pets in their own spooky getup, spending nearly half a billion dollars on making sure little Tiddles and Fido aren’t left out of the festivities.
But sadly, there’s one animal that’s going to have to stay in this Samhain. Per ABC News, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are warning chicken owners not to dress their feathered friends in holiday costumes this year, as outbreaks of multidrug-resistant Salmonella cases rage on throughout the country.
At least 92 people in 29 states have so far been infected with the disease, with 21 needing hospitalization. Although much of the advice has focused on food hygiene and product recalls (for God’s sake, throw away your Honey Smacks already), the CDC is reminding people that Salmonella can be transmitted by getting a little too close to live poultry as well.
“Live poultry might have Salmonella germs in their droppings and on their bodies… even when they appear healthy and clean,” the CDC warns. “Always wash your hands with soap and water right after touching live poultry… Don’t kiss your birds or snuggle them” (we won't ask).
Although you might think foregoing fancy dress for your chicken is an acceptable sacrifice in the name of not spending a week puking your guts out, not everybody is happy with the advice.
“Can you ever imagine not being able to dress up your chickens?” Louisiana poulteress Stephanie Morse asked local news outlet KOAA.
“No. No. I love to hold them, I love to talk to them. Everybody has names,” she said.
While Morse says her chickens will be embracing the spirit of the season regardless of the warnings this year, official advice remains the same: don’t play chicken with your health. Salmonella can cause vomiting, diarrhea, fever, chills, muscle cramps, and more – and in certain groups, such as young children (who, by the way, love playing with chickens), it can be deadly.
So, this year, maybe don’t shell out for that egg-stra special Cluck Norris costume – or risk taking part in a Halloween tradition a little more stomach-churning than you were hoping for.