Cute and fluffy, but baby chicks can make you sick

MOUNT VERNON, Mo. Besides the Easter Bunny, they're one of the most popular symbols of Easter. But baby chicks are more than just cute and fluffy. They do come with some health risks if you don't handle them right.

Many people get baby chicks this time of year, some just in time for Easter. But if you're holding baby chicks or ducklings, it's important to to clean your hands after handling.

That's because they they can always carry salmonella. It's a bacteria found in the intestines that can be transmitted through the baby chicks' fecal matter.

If you get a salmonella infection, you'll have unpleasant symptoms like diarrhea, stomach pain and cramping, and fever. But for some with weak immune systems, it can even be life-threatening.

People at Estes Hatchery take all the precautions they can to eliminate the risks, like rotating their cleaners to make sure the bacteria doesn't become resistant. But with more and more customers starting their own backyard flocks, they know the importance of educating the public too.

"They may see a picture and say oh cool, I want to do that," says Sean Richardson, Estes Hatchery sales and marketing director. "But they don't know that chickens are livestock, just like cattle, just like anything else. They're not household pets, so we want to make sure people know that, so that they can take all the precautions and do everything like they should to take care of those baby chickens."

If you were hoping to pick some chicks or ducklings up today at the hatchery, unfortunately those left are already spoken for. The next hatch day is Monday. But Estes Hatchery chicks are for sale at many local farm stores.