Despite media reports claiming otherwise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would like everyone to know that it's not warning people against dressing up their chickens for Halloween.

"However, we do advise people with backyard or pet chickens to handle them carefully to keep their family and their chickens safe and healthy," they added.

The controversy hatched last week when ABC News appeared to misinterpret a warning by the CDC over salmonella poisoning from handling poultry. As of September, according to the health agency, at least 334 people in 49 states have contracted salmonella poisoning from contact with backyard chickens, with 56 requiring hospitalization.

"When dressing a chicken, whether in a Halloween costume or a sweater, it is easier for a person to come into contact with harmful bacteria that live on poultry, including salmonella," reported ABC News.

While the CDC likely wouldn't object to this statement, they also aren't in the business of telling people whether or not to dress up their livestock. After the story went viral, the agency issued a press release denying a warning of any kind and instead urging people to follow some simple rules to safely enjoy their feathered friends. These include:

  • Always wash your hands after touching chickens or anything in their environment. Running water and soap are best. Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water aren’t available, and wash your hands thoroughly when you do get to a sink.
  • Keep chickens outdoors. Never bring them in your house.
  • Don’t eat or drink in the area where the birds live or roam.
  • Don’t kiss your birds or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth.

So whether you want to dress your chicken as a simple pumpkin (video above) or a hilariously detailed gothic vampire (video below), following a few simple rules will help make the night a treat and less of a horrific trick to the emergency room. You can check out the CDCs full list of guidelines here.

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

In case you were wondering where the CDC stands on Halloween costumes for chickens
As long as you follow some safety guidelines, the CDC doesn't really care if you dress up your poultry on Oct. 31 — or any other day of the year.