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Dead birds around a feeder: What to do?

Posted in Birds
Like any animal, disease outbreaks can occur in wild birds. Unless they are large outbreaks they often go unnoticed, but smaller outbreaks can sometimes be encountered by homeowners with bird feeders. Because bird feeders are mixing sites for birds, they are also sites of disease transmission and a place where deaths can be identified. In… Continue Reading

Psittacosis outbreak from a bird fair

Posted in Birds
A paper in Epidemiology and Infection (Belchior et al 2011) describes an outbreak of psittacosis (Chlamydophila psittaci infection) in people who attended a bird fair in western France in 2008. The investigation started off with the identification of the bird-associated disease in three people at a local hospital. All three were hospitalized with respiratory disease,… Continue Reading

Psittacosis (parrot fever) in Taipei

Posted in Birds
A 44-year-old Taipei man is recovering from psittacosis, a potentially severe infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci, which he may have contracted from his pet bird. This bacterium is commonly found in certain bird species, particularly psittacines (parrot family), and human infections are typically associated with bird contact. Healthy birds can shed the bacterium… Continue Reading

Pet bird linked to human infection?

Posted in Birds
A UK woman is both grieving the loss of her husband and battling illness she thinks came from a new pet parrot. The 67-year-old woman, who has chronic lymphocytic leukemia, obtained the bird to keep her company as her husband was dying of cancer. She says that she’s never felt right since she obtained the… Continue Reading

Fatal psittacosis in a parrot owner

Posted in Birds
A 62-yr-old Italian woman has died from psittacosis, an infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci. Sometimes called "parrot fever," psittacosis is an uncommon but important disease linked to contact with birds, particularly psittacines (e.g. parrots, parakeets, cockatiels). In people, C. psittaci usually causes flu-like respiratory disease, but severe pneumonia and encephalitis (inflammation of the… Continue Reading

Pets and H1N1 revisited

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs, Other animals
The recent discovery of H1N1 influenza in a pet ferret has led to another round of concern about the potential impact of H1N1 on pets and pets as a source of human infection. Finding H1N1 in a ferret is not particularly surprising, considering ferrets are susceptible to various (including human) influenza viruses. We shouldn’t dismiss… Continue Reading

“Family protection” screening of healthy pets

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs
As public awareness of zoonotic diseases increases, some new marketing opportunities are created. One is offering screening of pets for "protection" of the family. One company, Healthgene, offers a Family Protection Program that involves screening pets for selected zoonotic pathogens. Unfortunately, it involves the use of non-validated PCR tests for pathogens for which screening of… Continue Reading

VRE in Arctic birds

Posted in Birds
In the same edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases as a report on Campylobacter jejuni in macaroni penguins in Antarctica, there is a report about vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in glaucous gulls in Point Barrow, a remote area of Alaska. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci are an important problem in human medicine, mainly in hospitals where they can cause sporadic infections… Continue Reading

Macaroni infected with Campylobacter

Posted in Birds, Other animals
…Macaroni penguins, that is. There is a report in a recent edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases about isolation of Campylobacter jejuni from Macaroni penguins in Antarctica. Campylobacter is a bacterium that can cause diarrhea in people and animals, and which can also be found in the intestinal tracts of a wide variety of animal species, even when… Continue Reading

Doctors, pets and vets Part 2: We need to talk

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs
Recently, I wrote a post about the need for vets and physicians to communicate more, and about concerns that zoonotic diseases get missed because vets deal with animals and physicians deal with people, but few people pay attention to the interface between them. A reader (my father, actually) wrote this comment. “…is the opposite also… Continue Reading

Urban chickens

Posted in Birds
A new trend in the back-to-nature/all-natural (or whatever the catch-word of the day is) movement is urban chickens. These chickens are raised in small numbers by city slickers (i.e. urban residents) in their yards, and are typically used as a source of fresh eggs. Not surprisingly, this concept has met with some controversy. Some people… Continue Reading

Songbird fever: Salmonella in birds and cats

Posted in Birds, Cats, Salmonella
As is common this time of year, outbreaks of Salmonella infection in wild birds have been widely reported in parts of the US. Salmonella circulates regularly at low levels in the wild bird population, and sporadic outbreaks involving large numbers of sick and dead birds are periodically encountered. These are often noticed in urban areas… Continue Reading

Climate change and pet health

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs, Horses, Other diseases, Parasites
Recently, I made a few comments about climate change and the potential impact on infectious diseases in horses on our sister site, equIDblog. A recent news article in New Scientist discussed concerns about climate change and pets. The main infectious disease concern regarding climate change is changes in patterns and spread of insect-borne diseases, because different… Continue Reading

Doctors, pets and vets

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs
Over 50% of households in Canada and the US have pets, and the numbers are probably similar in many other countries. Pets are often considered part of the family socially but we need to consider them part of the family biologically as well. It’s clear that diseases that be transmitted between people and pets –… Continue Reading

Suspected psittacosis in a pet shop worker

Posted in Birds, Other diseases
People that work with animals are at increased risk for certain infectious diseases. That’s pretty clear. Pet shop employees fit into this group as well, and they may be at particular risk for specific diseases because of their close contact with young animals, birds, rodents and reptiles. A suspected case of psittacosis in a Toronto… Continue Reading

Bird Flu and the Singing Roosters of Java

Posted in Birds, Other diseases
The following is a post by guest-blogger, Dr. David Waltner-Toews. For North American veterinarians, the term “companion animals” covers a wide territory, from dogs, cats, and caged birds, to a variety of rodent and porcine escapees from barnyards and burrows. But when does a companion become something else? In my work with Veterinarians without Borders/… Continue Reading

Bird seed recall: Salmonella

Posted in Birds, Salmonella
As you undoubtedly know, a large Salmonella outbreak has occurred in the US, associated with contaminated peanuts. The scope of this outbreak continues to expand in unexpected areas, including pets. The latest development is a voluntary recall of bird seed. The recall affects 20-pound packages of Wild Birds Unlimited Wildlife Blend bird food (produced by… Continue Reading

More on Avian Influenza

Posted in Birds
Wild birds are the natural hosts of all influenza type A viruses, of which there are numerous subtypes distinguished by their hemagglutinin (HA – 16 types) and neuraminidase (NA – 9 types) surface proteins. Subtypes H5, H7 and H9 can infect both birds and humans, but H7 and H9 infections in humans are uncommon. Within… Continue Reading

Hatching chicks in classrooms

Posted in Birds, Salmonella
My oldest daughter is in Grade 2, and last year her class hatched chicken eggs in the classroom. As a parent, I was somewhat torn about the idea. My main concern was the risk of exposure to Salmonella. A recent article in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports described outbreaks of salmonellosis associated with contact with live… Continue Reading

Smuggling Psittacosis

Posted in Birds
As an illustration of some of the points made in the recent Worms&Germs post on animal smuggling, an outbreak of psittacosis was recently reported in Russia, which has been linked to illegally imported decorative birds.  Since December 30, 21 cases of psittacosis have been reported in the Petuhovsky district of the Kurgan region.  The source… Continue Reading