Birds and Diseases

Birds can spread germs to people, but illness caused by touching or owning birds is rare. Protect yourself from getting sick. Wash your hands thoroughly with running water and soap after handling birds or their droppings. Different types of birds can carry different diseases.

Parents and day-care workers should be aware that children younger than 5 years should not touch baby chicks and ducklings. These baby birds can pass Salmonella bacteria to children and make them very sick. This germ causes salmonellosis. Parakeets and parrots can carry the germ Chlamydia psittaci. Infection with this germ causes the disease psittacosis. Pigeon droppings also have germs that make people sick.

Some people are more likely than others to get diseases from birds. A person's age or a damagedimmune systemincreases the chances of getting sick. People who are more likely to get diseases from birds include infants, children younger than 5 years, organ transplant patients, people with HIV/AIDS, and people being treated for cancer.