Ask Lafeber

Question:

March 31, 2021

Chickens and Parrots


Since they are both avian, is it common or even possible for parrots to get chicken diseases from an owner carrying the germs on their clothing and/or hands from the coop to the house?


Answer:

Hi Karen,

There are diseases, organisms and parasites that can be spread between parrots and poultry. One virus, that causes Newcastle’s Disease, nearly ended pet bird ownership during an outbreak in the United States in the 70’s. The American Federation of Aviculture was established during this time and were responsible for blocking legislation that would have effectively ended bird ownership. This disease is a serious threat to the poultry industry and can be carried by parrots. It can affect nearly all bird species and has a nearly 100% mortality rate. Because of the threat to a commercial industry, the government acts quickly to stop an outbreak when one occurs, by killing all poultry and captive birds that may have been exposed. Newcastle’s Disease is the reason import stations were created to quarantine all birds brought into the US. During an outbreak, officials have been known to canvas neighborhoods in the affected areas, asking mail carriers and neighbors to identify anyone with pet birds or backyard poultry. Forced entry warrants are used to gain access to homes, where pet birds and poultry are seized and killed on the spot. To this day, pet bird owners who are aware of this do not keep any type of poultry and many do their best to conceal their ownership of birds. With each outbreak, there is more public awareness and technically pet bird owners have the right to quarantine their birds at their expense. However, the poultry industry is the government’s only concern, so mass killings are likely to happen again when there is a serious outbreak.

Aside from that virus, there are others that can be passed between poultry and parrots, but that do not pose the financial threat of Newcastle’s. You can also track bacteria or other organisms and internal and external parasites between species. If a pet bird owner also keeps backyard poultry, disinfecting foot baths at all entries are recommended, and clothing should be changed when going from chickens to parrots.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,

Brenda

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