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#122522 - 07/01/03 02:44 AM Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Mona Offline
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Dr. Mike, I would like to ask you to clear up something for me and maybe others, if you have time. I have always been told that most human illnesses are species specific, in other words, not transferrable to our birds. (I know there are a couple of exceptions to this, such as Avian Influenza, but Im talking about colds for example. I have talked to so many people that say, "Oh I have a cold, I cant go near my bird", I saw him sneezing or his nose running etc"...now this isnt possible is it? Birds nasal passages arent even connected to the trachea like ours, they end up in the roof of their mouth, (beak) don't they? The closest thing to a "cold" a bird could get I have always thought, was an upper respiratory tract infection and those symptoms are really not like a cold at all anyway. I have always looked for tail bobbing, a bird all fluffed up, and lethargic, often sitting in the bottom of the cage, as symptoms of an upper respiratory infection. I usually tell those people that the bird is merely mimicing symptoms he/she has seen the human exhibiting. My birds all have picked up my 'cough' when I had a cold and my congo grey STILL has that cough..sigh..I got over that cold about 3 years ago! LOL
Anyway, I noticed a discussion on another bird board and someone was advising another person that her bird CAN catch strep throat from her and not to go near the bird. Is this true??
Are there perhaps bacterial type illnesses that
can be transmitted and its just viral ones that are not? Im so confused now, as you can see. confused
I was hoping you could clear this up once and for all for me and list any human illnesses that ARE transmittable to our birds, for future reference when I am asked about this topic.
Thank you for your time
Mona

#122523 - 07/01/03 06:46 AM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Dr. Mike Offline
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NOTE: Dr Mike must answer questions here FIRST. Then others may continue the thread. I removed a members post here for that reason and Dr Mike is answering that members and Monas post together. Jerry
________________________________________________

Hi, here comes my take:

First, Streptococcus is a genus of bacteria – NOT virus. There are a number of species of Streptococcus. The one that we commonly get as an infection in our tonsils and throat is, indeed, capable of infecting birds. So are several others that are not as common and are mainly found in agricultural animals, causing mastitis in cows, and pneumonia in pigs.

In general, there are three reasons a bacteria is able to cause infection:

1). Some species are just extremely virulent and are able to attack a strong, healthy system. the strep infections people get are one - the Jack-in-the-box strain of E. Coli is another. This mode of infection is quite rare, compared to the other two

2). Overwhelming or large-dose exposure to opportunistic bacteria. Good sanitation usually prevents this.

3). The most common is infection by opportunistic bacteria because of reduced immune response. This can happen in times of stress, poor nutrition, or concurrent disease conditions. Make no mistake, many of our birds are experiencing a good deal of stress at least some of the time. Of the several times I have been infected with psittacosis, for example, only once did it really make me very sick. This was a time in my life when I was under tremendous stress and the infection nearly killed me.

When we get a “cold”, this disease in us is caused by a virus. This virus does not, itself, readily infect our birds. Their body temperature is too high (106 degrees) for it to do well. This is, in fact why we get a fever when infected by viruses – it is one of our body's ways to fight them.

However, we do harbor a number of bacteria – normally found in our mouths, sinuses, and eyes, that can infect birds, if given the chance (Number 2 or 3 above). These bacteria I speak of include, but are not limited to, other species of Streptococcus than the one that infects us that we carry around all the time that don't bother us a bit, but can infect birds.

When we have a cold, we tend to cough and sneeze a lot. This liberates large numbers of these bacteria, which are opportunists to the bird, into the air. We end up contaminating our faces, hands, clothes, as well as their feathers, food and water dishes, cages, etc.

They are then more likely to become exposed to them when they come into contact with any of these surfaces.

Sometimes, conditions (like french-kissing your bird - yuk) are ideal for these bacteria to get into the bird by inhalation or ingestion and cause infection.

Their trachea does communicate with their sinuses when their mouth is closed. It connects and seals to the choana. The upper respiratory (sinus) infections they get do usually manifest with sneezing and runny nose.

The symptoms of tail-bobbing and increased effort in breathing are usually attributed to either middle airway (trachea) or lower airway (lungs or airsac) disease.

Birds with even quite severe upper (sinus) airway disease rarely show much difficulty in getting air in and out of the airsacs and through the lungs. They also don't usually show systemic signs of illness until and unless the infection extends down into the middle or lower parts of the respiratory system. They do often sound wet and gurgly, but only when their mouth is closed.

Its as “simple” as that. smile

BTW, one of my Amazons can rival the sound of a sneeze with the best of them - whenever anyone sneezes or coughs, she chimes in with her version - it is SOOO cute, a very dramatic ahhhhhhhhhh - CHEEEW! laugh

Dr. Mike

#122524 - 07/01/03 02:44 PM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Jerry Offline
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Quote:
Sometimes, conditions like french-kissing your bird....
Now wait a minute! Who's the first on this board to admit to French kissing their bird! <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" />

( See me for pointers on how to get a date ) :rolleyes:

#122525 - 07/01/03 04:08 PM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Toy3 Offline
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Sorry Jerry I didn't know that rule.

10,000 lashes with a wet feather, LOL.

Toy

*** No problem! If you look on the main forum heading under "Ask The Vet" it says:
Quote:
Ask Dr Mike your medical questions here. Please note that he will only answer medical and not behavioral questions. No one is to answer questions here before Dr. Mike posts his answer first. NO emergencies!

#122526 - 07/01/03 05:00 PM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Mona Offline
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Ahhh okay, I had a feeling it was bacteria that we could pass along, and not a virus. So when we sneeze or cough on our birds or near them, we may be releasing bacteria that can harm them and its not actually our "cold" they could catch, but harmful bacteria we put into the air by the coughing, sneezing. I have been telling people for years that birds cannot catch our colds but I never even considered this. And they can get strep throat because its bacterial, wow...thank you for clearing all this up for me. smile

#122527 - 07/01/03 06:06 PM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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SUNNY Offline
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I think I'd rather get my tongue caught in a mouse trap than to stick my tongue out for a big beak to chomp off laugh !! Are there really people who allow tongue kissing with their birds !?!

#122528 - 07/01/03 11:35 PM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Dr. Mike Offline
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Believe it or not...
I'm seen quite a few people who proudly show off their bird's ability to "preen" their tongue. I have had one tongue-piercing in the exam room where there was more than a little (human) blood involved and a very embarassed owner who couldn't imagine that her bird would actually bite down, even though she was warned that birds sometimes behave differently in the exam room than at home.

I have also had two nipple-piercings, several ear-lobe piercings, and countless finger-piercings in the exam room over the years. All performed on owners who had birds sitting on their laps or shoulders while listening to me one second, then suddenly, without warning, their beloved bird who wouldn't hurt a fly, latches on to a part of the owner's anatomy. I have also been able to avert a lot of these when I notice the body language change and warn the owner or just get the bird to come to me before it happens.

Anyone who puts their tongue in a macaw's mouth should not be surprised when it gets pierced... <img border="0" alt="[laughing]" title="" src="graemlins/laugh[1].gif" />
I could tell stories....

Dr. Mike smile

#122529 - 07/02/03 12:16 AM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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blson Offline
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This thread brings back much agony for me. My cockatiel, Sarah, died of pneumonia in April. I had ambulatory pneumonia for weeks prior to her pneumonia. My tiel's pneumonia was not psittacosis, asper or anything the good vets could find. It responded well enough to Baytril(at first) and my pneumonia was treated with Cipro. I have no education in science or medicine but I know that I gave the pneumonia to my Sarah. Being sick often with COPD was one of the reasons I gave away my birds on June 18. I have never "french" kissed my birds and when sick I always hand wash extra well-actually obsessive before and after handling my birds or their cups or perches or anything of theirs. People who are chronically sick with respiratory illness such as myself may want to talk with both their human doctor and their bird doctor both about what's best for both the birds and the human. For me it was giving them away.

#122530 - 07/02/03 01:17 AM Re: Human to Bird Illnesses  
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Dr. Mike Offline
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Oh Blson,

I am so sorry to hear your story.

I have to give you supreme credit for doing the thing that hurt the most, in order to keep your birds safe. I hope you were able to find good loving homes for them - I bet you did.

The sacrifice you have made, whether it was necessary or not, displays the kind of courage that is a shining example of the love that you have for them.

I sincerely hope that your story will inspire others to search their hearts when confronted with decisions like yours and that they are able to do what is in the best interests of the birds, despite the pain the decision causes.

God bless you - I pray your condition improves and you are able to live without physical suffering.

Dr. Mike smile


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