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Don’t kiss that chick! Md. frowns on Easter chick gifting

ANNAPOLIS — The Maryland Agriculture Department says the heightened risk of bird flu makes it a bad idea to buy baby chickens and ducks as Eastertime gifts for children.

The agency said in a statement Tuesday that handling live poultry can cause serious illness from germs that also include salmonella.

The department says people who choose to purchase live poultry should get the birds only from hatcheries certified by the U.S. Agriculture Departments’ National Poultry Improvement Plan.

The agency says the birds should not be handled by children under 5, elderly people or those with weak immune systems.

The department also says the birds should not be brought indoors, and people should not snuggle or kiss the birds or eat or drink around them.