May 15, 2020

Common Allergies and Infections from Household Birds

When deciding to own a pet, it’s important to know what to expect. Owning a bird can cause allergies and infections, so it’s best to be prepared for the outcomes in case the common ones strike. 

Feather Allergies 
The feathers aren’t actually producing strong allergens that cause reactions; it’s the dander. When keeping their wings still, the dander will not spread much. However, birds like to fly around their cages and randomly flutter their wings, so it’s almost impossible not to come in contact with their feather dandruff. It is also common to find allergens in their fecal matter, which is very easy to come in contact with when cleaning their cage. 

Parrot Allergy 
If you have a pet bird, most notably species like Cockatoos or African Grey Parrots, and are showing allergic symptoms, it may not even be a feather allergy. Some species of birds will produce white, oily dust is a little different from typical bird dander. These species of birds produce a lot of it. The dust from these birds can be so bad that when cleaning out an air conditioner, it can resemble the amount of dust in a furnace filter where drywall work had been done, as described in this article.  

Chlamydiosis/Psittacosis 
This disease can be easily transmitted from birds to humans, which causes flu-like symptoms. The worst case scenario, if left untreated, is that it can cause various other problems such as meningitis or liver and kidney damage. 

Fungal Infections 
There are various fungal infections, such as Histoplasmosis and Cryptococcus, that can be transmitted to humans. These two in particular are typically uncommon in pet birds; however, they often show very little symptoms, so it’s best to keep your bird healthy and checked up often to prevent the disease from being transmitted to you. 

Avian Tuberculosis 
This is often another rare disease in birds, but affected humans can lead to various health problems in those with weakened immune systems. This disease is very easily spread, as it can be in the air from infected birds’ feces. 

There are plenty more possibilities of allergic reactions and infections caused by pet birds, and more can be found here. It is important to understand how your body will react to owning a bird and, once getting your bird, it is then crucial to make sure it is kept healthy and regularly checked up on. Being aware of potential problems is the first step to preventing them.