Bird owners warned after contagious disease confirmed

PUBLISHED: 09:58 04 June 2015 | UPDATED: 10:23 04 June 2015




PUBLIC Health England (PHE) has warned West Country bird owners to be on their guard after someone in Bristol has been taken ill with an infectious bird disease.

PHE is investigating a confirmed case of psittacosis, which is primarily an infection of birds, but can cause pneumonia and other severe health problems in humans.

Human infection is usually due to exposure to infected pet birds, such as cockatiels, budgies, other members of the parrot family and pigeons.

Although humans cannot pass the disease to one another, the condition is infectious among birds, including pigeons and poultry, and people can catch the disease from birds.

The authorities have been in touch with residents living close to the individual who kept the birds, to inform them of the situation and any necessary action to be taken.

Sick birds may show signs of sleepiness, shivering, weight loss, breathing difficulties and diarrhoea, but not all birds which are infected will show these signs.

As a precaution, people with concerns relating to birds they have purchased between May 28 and June 3 are advised to contact their vet to discuss what next steps to take with regards to their bird’s health.

Deputy director of health protection for Public Health England South West Mike Wade said: “Members of the public who may have come into contact with birds need to be assured that severe illness as a result of infection from this bacteria is rare.”

In humans, the signs and symptoms of psittacosis appear within four to 30 days after exposure but commonly occur after 10 days.

Symptoms include, fever, chills, coughing, weakness or fatigue, muscle and chest pain, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea, headaches, sweating and abnormal intolerance to light.

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