Can our birds get sick from us?

Riio

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Apr 19, 2011
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San Diego California
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'Rio'~RIP baby girl 'Sunshine'~Yellow Side Green Cheek Conure
So with the change of seasons etc comes colds, flu, etc. If we have one of these illnesses can we get our birds sick? Probably a stupid question but I honestly am worried about it. Thanks!
 

MollyGreenCheeks

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Jan 16, 2012
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Molly - GCC, Cody - GCC, Gracie - Congo African Grey
This is absolutely NOT a stupid question. When I spoke to my vet about this she said that your bird cannot get the common cold from you (I didn't think about the flu). The one thing she emphasized was not to allow your bird to steal kisses where they may get some of your saliva. I know that mine love to try to get my teeth or try to nibble on my bottom lip, etc. Our saliva can get them very sick.
 

momto3

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Mar 19, 2012
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My avian vet said no birdie kisses because they can get sick from you. They can catch the flu or other respiratory illnesses from you. Incidentally, guinea pigs can get sick from being handled by people with active respiratory infections (such as a cold, sinus infection, etc.). This is actually pretty common in households with kids. In our household, we do not handle birds or guinea pigs when we are sick--especially if we are sneezing or coughing. We do use hand sanitizer and hold them as long as we are not coughing or sneezing, but we keep contact to a minimum.
 

MeganMango

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Oct 13, 2012
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Guelph Ontario
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1 red bellied parrot (Mango), 3 cockatiels (Bugsie, Alfie, and Bananas)
Viruses are generally species specific, with few exceptions. Aside from the bird flu (get to the hospital and avoid contact with anyone) your bird cant catch a cold or flu virus from you. Your bird can catch a few parasites and bacterial infections however, and can likewise transmit these to you. Guinea pigs can catch a couple of rare respiratory infections, but it is highly unlikely that you are even carrying them. You should avoid allowing your bird having contact with any mucus membranes or body fluids to avoid bacterial transfer. This is pretty easy, we are talking saliva, urine, feces etc, the same precautions you should take with other people. Even if you are sick, washing your hands with normal soap and water should be sufficient to prevent any bacterial transfer. Keep in mind that most organisms you carry are completely harmless. If you have an illness that is transferable to an animal, you are very sick indeed and will need hospital attention. These are usually the scariest of pathogens and are called zoonoses. They usually only transmit across very specific species (ie HIV (non human primates), ebola (fruit bat), H1N1 (swine), bird flu (avian)). Parasites are more of an issue, and if you have a parasite odds are you will know it. Again they are almost always species specific with very few exceptions. Bed bugs prefer birds, but they arent picky feeders. Some ticks will munch on you and your birds, but they are usually one-time feeders so even if you have a tick it isnt likely to leave you for your bird. Lice and fleas are pretty picky, cat fleas will bite people but they are usually very specific. Again, if you have something moving from one species to another usually has serious medical complications.
 

Customcasket

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Aug 24, 2011
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Female Dusky Conure (Kayak) Female Sun Conure (Carlisle) Female Budgie (Meister) Male Budgie (Spooky Burd)
I've been sick for a week or so. I call it the "CVS Sniffles" because I work at CVS Pharmacy, I deal with the sick people, and have no clue what it is that I caught. It is all I can do to keep Carlisle from nibbling on my lips and attempting to bite my tongue. I'm finally getting over it and cannot wait until it's totally gone!

2 summers ago when the Swine Flu was prevalent my father, boyfriend (now ex), and I ended up deathly ill with it. The poor birds were 'neglected' while we were sick. I was too sick to crawl out of bed much less deal with feathered toddlers trying to eat my face. Normally when I end up sick I don't feel like dealing (unless they're super cuddly) with them as horrible as that makes me sound.
 
OP
Riio

Riio

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Apr 19, 2011
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San Diego California
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'Rio'~RIP baby girl 'Sunshine'~Yellow Side Green Cheek Conure
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Thanks for all the helpful advice. Customcasket I worked as a medical assistant then emt for the last 11 yrs so I know what you mean about those sniffles. I have been a stay at home mom now for over a year and my lil guy is now in pre-school, so I am expecting without the imune boost of being around sick people everyday, I am expecting this season to be particularly hard on us. Uugghh! Lol so Im trying to gather info beforehand!
 

MeganMango

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Oct 13, 2012
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Guelph Ontario
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1 red bellied parrot (Mango), 3 cockatiels (Bugsie, Alfie, and Bananas)
I had swine flu too, I wanted to die. The neighborhood cat came into our house and slept with me for about a week. We couldnt let him leave after that. He seemed to know I was sick. My fiance was on his way in the house and the cat just marched in and walked right up to my bedroom. He waited at the end of my bed while I was in the hospital too. My brother adopted him.
 

JuicyNip

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Jul 22, 2019
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Black-Capped Conure
Considering that flu season is rapidly approaching. I'm bumping this thread for the benefit of new paronts.
Interesting note- Today I was googling "do parrots catch colds from humans?" and this was one of the first results. This place really is such a good resource for information. The wealth of knowledge it's members share with each other is much appreciated!
 

Miarobi

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Oct 24, 2019
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Salt Lake City
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Cat and two parrots
I had swine flu too, I wanted to die. The neighborhood cat came into our house and slept with me for about a week. We couldnt let him leave after that. He seemed to know I was sick. My fiance was on his way in the house and the cat just marched in and walked right up to my bedroom. He waited at the end of my bed while I was in the hospital too. My brother adopted him.

It seems to me that cats really feel when a person is sick and there is no point in chasing them away from themselves. Especially if it is a cold that is not dangerous for animals.

And about parrots I was also always interested in this question. Here I also read a lot of useful information, but again the opinions here were divided into 2 camps. But I never risked the health of my parrots and just had less contact with them when I was sick.
 

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