Worms & Germs Blog

Tag Archives: Birds

“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

Bowls and birds: keeping both clean

Posted in Birds
It’s amazing where infectious disease discussions can develop (at least for strange people like me). I was having a conversation with Dr. Mike Taylor (an avian and exotics specialist at the Ontario Veterinary College) after hockey the other night, and we started talking about infectious diseases. Mike has done a lot of work with proventricular… Continue Reading

Woman pecked by magpie loses leg

Posted in Birds
A recent report in the Medical Journal of Australia described the case of a woman who was pecked in the leg by her daughter’s pet magpie. The woman was otherwise healthy (i.e. she did not have a compromised immune system), but the wound became infected by the fungus Saksenaea vasiformis, which rarely causes disease in… Continue Reading

Pets and immunocompromised people

Posted in Birds, Cats, Dogs, Reptiles
There was an interesting article in USA Today about the increasing recognition of the positive role that pets can play in patients recovering from serious disease, and how contact with pets can sometimes conflict with disease transmission concerns in these same patients. The attitude towards pet ownership among physicians is highly variable – some recognize… Continue Reading

Nontraditional Pets and Children: Beware

Posted in Birds, Other animals, Pocket pets, Reptiles, Salmonella
A report about the health risks in children associated with nontraditional pets was recently published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics. The report also discusses diseases associated with animals in public settings such as petting zoos and pet stores.  Although contact with pets and animals can be beneficial to growth… Continue Reading

Your mother was right! Wash your hands

Posted in Birds, Cats, Clostridium difficile, Dogs, Horses, MRSA/MRSP, Other animals, Other diseases, Parasites, Pocket pets, Reptiles, Salmonella, Toxoplasmosis
You may notice a recurring theme in many of our posts and on virtually all of the information sheets on the Worms & Germs Resources page: an emphasis on handwashing. There is increasing emphasis on hand hygiene (i.e. hand washing and use of alcohol hand sanitizers) education in hospitals because the hands of healthcare workers… Continue Reading