Friday, June 16, 2017

A reminder: Health concerns related to raising chickens in an urban environment

Raising chickens, aka ‘Urban Chickens’ IS NOT LEGAL in Lake Worth despite what you may have heard. However, like the myth about Lake Worth being a “sanctuary city”, the myth about it being legal to raise chickens within the City limits gets suggested by some in the press every now and then, by those who probably know better.

Last year there were news reports of coyotes as close by as Greenacres killing cats and other small small animals as well. What do coyotes like to hunt? You guessed right. Chickens (see “Attraction of predators” below).

The argument for raising chickens is to save a few pennies on eggs. Have you seen the price of eggs lately?

The ‘urban chicken’ is not merely a nuisance. The animals present very serious health concerns for young children and the elderly, issues with food safety, infectious diseases, biosecurity, not to mention the added burden on local Code Enforcement to answer complaints and educate the public about the facts.

The following information comes from a well-researched document about human health concerns associated with raising chickens in an urban environment:
  • Bacterial diseases: Salmonella and Campylobacter are common public health hazards potentially associated with chicken contact.
  • Histoplasmosis: Histoplasmosis can cause a respiratory disease with cough and shortness of breath.
  • Avian influenza (bird flu): Avian influenza is a theoretical public health hazard potentially associated with urban chicken farming.
  • Attraction of predators: The attraction of predators is a public health hazard potentially associated with urban chicken farming (e.g., coyotes)
  • Attraction of rodents: The attraction of rodents is a public health hazard potentially associated with urban chicken farming.
  • Nuisance issues
Management and handling of poultry in small backyard flocks:
  • Keep baby chicks and adult poultry away from persons with weaker immune systems, including the elderly, pregnant women, diabetics, patients receiving chemotherapy and people infected with HIV.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that person not keep chickens if the household has children less than five years of age.
  • Make sure that people who handle the chickens or their droppings, wash hands properly with soap and water following contact.
  • Do not eat or drink around the poultry.
  • Keep poultry away from food preparation areas.
  • Do not wash items, such as water or food dishes, from chicken coops in the kitchen sink.
  • Do not allow poultry to roam in the house.
  • Maintain the area where the poultry are present in a sanitary manner.
  • See your physician if you experience fever and diarrhea.
Communities that permit urban chicken farming are advised to ensure that flock owners receive educational materials on infectious diseases, animal husbandry, food safety and biosecurity. These communities also should have a system in place for responding to community complaints.

Are those few pennies saved for a few eggs really worth exposing your neighbors to avoidable health risks and safety issues?

Image from the blog of Tom McGow, a former blogger-extraordinaire in the City, who chronicled Cara Jennings’ 2009 urban chicken crusade to degrade the quality of life here in the City of Lake Worth.

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