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3d drawing of a salmonella bacteria contracted from birds

4 Types of Bird Diseases You Could Get in Australia

March 16, 2019

Although playing an important role in eco-systems, some birds, particularly those regarded as pests, can be a significant health hazard. Exposure to sick birds, or associated bacteria and parasites, can present a real risk for people, whether at home or at work.

Common diseases

Here are some of the more common diseases that pose a risk to humans.

Salmonella – often associated with food poisoning in general, this disease usually occurs after food or drink is contaminated with infected bird faeces. Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhoea, fever, nausea and vomiting.

Psittacosis – sometimes called Parrot Fever, this disease occurs from inhaling airborne particles. Symptoms can occur after a few days, or possibly 2-3 weeks, and include abdominal pain, headaches and diarrhoea.

Histoplasmosis – a fungal disease caused by inhaling spores, it usually occurs when infected soil is disturbed.

Avian Influenza – more commonly known as bird flu, this virus is caused by the A strain of the influenza virus. Bird flu in Australia is rare, but historically virus mutations have led to pandemics. The risk of infection comes from exposure to infected birds or contaminated environments. Symptoms are similar to flu, and include a fever, headaches, muscle aches, difficulty breathing and fatigue.

Importance of basic hygiene

In general, diseases from birds occur from contact with dead or infected birds, their faeces, or areas heavily populated by birds (like abandoned buildings). Basic hygiene is the best defence against contamination, and protective clothing and apparatus may be required. Something as simple as wearing gloves and washing your hands will be enough if disposing of dead birds. Keeping areas of human habitation clean will also minimise risk. Wherever symptoms persist, always seek medical advice.