Zoonotic Avian Infections

Key Points

  • Individuals that work or live with birds may be at risk for zoonotic diseases.
  • Psittacosis in humans may range from asymptomatic infection to flu-like signs to severe disease including pneumonia.
  • The most important route of Salmonella spp. transmission is eating incompletely cooked food and drinks; however humans may also be infected from poultry and free-living birds.
  • Allergic alveolitis is a serious, under-recognized condition, that may affect bird owners after exposure to feather antigen.
  • Most human West Nile virus infections are asymptomatic although mild influenza-like signs may be seen in about 20%. A small proportion (less than 1%) develop more severe neurologic disease which is sometimes fatal.
  • Avian influenza may cause severe disease affecting the respiratory, digestive and/or nervous system and high mortality.
  • As avian veterinarians, we are all on the front line for identifying avian influenza. Train staff to recognize clinical signs and answer questions.
  • Immunocompromised individuals commonly contract Mycobacterium aviuminfection from contaminated soil. Infection from birds is extremely rare.

An average 250 human cases of Chlamydophila psittaci are reported annually in the United States. Clinical signs typically follows a 5 to 14 day incubation period. Disease ranges from subclinical to systemic illness with severe pneumonia. Most people demonstrate sudden onset fever, headache, malaise, and myalgia with a non-productive cough that can be accompanied by breathing difficulty and chest tightness. Splenomegaly and . . .


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