Common Diseases Spread By Birds

Avian diseases present a substantial risk to our feathered companions’ well-being and can also affect us. It is of utmost importance to be knowledgeable about the various ailments that can impact birds and to adhere to safety measures that impede their transmission.

sparrows in bird bath spread diseases the fastest

How Birds Transmit Diseases to Humans

Though generally harmless and often seen as harmonious elements of our ecosystem, birds can transmit diseases to humans indirectly or directly.

Indirect transmission usually occurs when birds contaminate resources such as water, food, or surfaces, with their droppings that may carry harmful pathogens. Humans, unknowingly ingesting or coming into contact with these contaminated resources, may contract diseases.

Direct transmission, on the other hand, can happen through bites or scratches from infected birds. Moreover, certain species can harbor disease-causing parasites, like ticks or mites, that can directly transfer from birds to humans, leading to further potential health risks.

Most Common Bird-Borne Diseases and Symptoms

mourning dove on grass

Avian Influenza (The Bird Flu)

Avian Influenza, commonly referred to as “Bird Flu,” is a type of influenza virus that primarily affects birds but can also infect humans and other animals. The disease has several strains, some of which have caused significant outbreaks with high mortality rates in domestic poultry. Humans can contract Bird Flu by direct or indirect contact with infected birds or their droppings. Symptoms in humans include fever, cough, sore throat, and sometimes severe respiratory diseases and other complications. The potential for the virus strains to mutate and spread among humans raises substantial public health concerns worldwide.

outdoor cat keeping birds away by laying in the birdbath

Feathered Flocks to Furry Friends: Bird Flu Jumps From Animal to Animal

The ability of Bird Flu to transmit from birds to other animals, such as pigs and domestic cats, poses a significant threat. This phenomenon, scientifically referred to as zoonotic spillover occurs when a new host comes into contact with an infected animal or a contaminated environment.

The virus strains can adapt and mutate within these new hosts, potentially leading to more virulent forms of the disease. This interspecies transmission underscores the importance of stringent biosecurity measures, particularly in farms and other settings where birds and other animals co-exist, to prevent such spillovers and safeguard public health.


West Nile Virus: An Equine Threat

West Nile Virus represents a significant health threat not only to humans but also to horses, making it a matter of concern for the extensive equine community in Colorado. The virus is primarily transmitted through mosquito bites, which become infected after feeding on birds carrying the virus. Horses are particularly vulnerable to West Nile Virus, with symptoms ranging from fever and weakness to a more severe neurological disease that can lead to disability or even death. Equine infections underscore the crucial need for effective bird control measures and mosquito management, particularly in areas with a high horse population, to curtail the spread of this potentially deadly disease.


Histoplasmosis: When Bird Droppings Become a Breathing Hazard

Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease caused by the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum, which thrives in soil enriched with bird droppings. When areas contaminated with bird droppings are disturbed, the fungal spores can become airborne and, if inhaled, may cause infection. While many who inhale the spores do not get sick, those with weakened immune systems, such as the young, the elderly, or those living with HIV, are at a higher risk. Symptoms can range from flu-like illnesses to severe lung infections. This disease underlines the importance of proper waste management and bird control measures to prevent the spread of these potentially harmful spores.


Salmonella: The Hidden Risks of Backyard Chickens and Bird Feeders

Salmonella is a common bacteria found in the intestines of birds, including those that seem perfectly healthy and clean, like your backyard chickens or birds visiting your feeders. These bacteria can spread to humans through direct contact with birds or by touching surfaces where the birds have been, including bird feeders. Symptoms of Salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. For immunocompromised individuals, the elderly, and children, the disease can be severe or sometimes deadly, underlining the importance of adopting proper hygiene practices when handling birds, maintaining cleanliness of bird feeders, and ensuring thorough cooking of poultry products.

Protecting Your Flock and Yourself: Tips for Minimizing Risks

How to Keep Bird Feeders Safely

Maintaining cleanliness is key to keeping bird feeders safe. Regularly disinfect bird feeders and their surroundings to prevent the buildup of droppings and leftover feed, which could harbor disease-causing bacteria and parasites. Additionally, consider locating bird feeders away from areas of human activity to minimize contact and potential disease transmission.

sparrows in bird feeder easily spreading illness
chickens in yard

Got Chickens? Protect Your Poultry

  • Regularly check for and eliminate pests or parasites that could carry diseases.
  • Administer appropriate vaccinations to protect against common bird diseases.
  • Separate sick birds from the flock promptly to avoid disease transmission.
  • Maintain hygiene when handling poultry and their eggs, washing hands thoroughly before and after contact.
  • Cook eggs and meat thoroughly to kill any potential bacteria.
By adopting these practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of common diseases spread by birds and ensure a healthy home for your poultry.

Giving Birds Space and Keeping Healthy

Respecting wild birds’ space is crucial for both their welfare and our health. Here’s how:
  • Observe birds from a distance to protect their natural behavior and minimize disease transmission.
  • Avoid feeding wild birds to prevent disruption of their diet and potential disease spread.
By respecting bird spaces and practicing good hygiene, we can enjoy the diverse beauty of birdlife while promoting their well-being and ours.
baby birds in nest

Report Sick or Dead Birds for Everyone’s Safety

Report sick or dead birds to local animal health authorities or pest control professionals at OMNIS Pest Control to monitor and control the spread of bird-borne diseases. Avoid handling them yourself, as professionals have the necessary gear and training to ensure everyone’s safety.

Your Ally in Bird Disease Prevention, OMNIS PEST CONTROL

Birds bring life and color to our environment but can also carry dangerous diseases. By understanding the risks associated with common bird-borne diseases and adopting preventative measures, we can protect ourselves, our pets, and our beloved birds while maintaining a harmonious co-existence with nature.

Remember to watch for signs of disease in birds and report them promptly to the proper authorities. When managing pest birds on your property, trust OMNIS Pest Control’s expertise in safe and effective bird control measures to safeguard your home and health. Take proactive steps now to prevent potential disease transmission from birds and ensure safe living for all. Let us work together to maintain a healthy community and environment.