Bird Diseases

Zoonotic Diseases are diseases that can pass from animals to people. There are several avenues through which this can happen. Some of the most common methods of transmission include: Fecal-oral, respiratory, direct contact, penetrating wound, and vector-borne diseases.

The following are diseases that can be transmitted from birds to people. Understanding these diseases and how they are  transferred can help you avoid exposure.

Fecal-oral Transmission

Respiratory Transmission


Cryptosporidiosis (crypto) is a disease caused by Cryptosporidium parvum. The parasite lives in soil, food, and water. It may also be on surfaces that have been contaminated with feces. The parasite can infect any pet or farm animal and many wild animals, including birds.

You can become infected by swallowing the parasite, if it is in your food, drinking water, or water that you swim in. You can also contract the illness by touching your face with dirty hands that have been contaminated with the feces of humans or animals infected with the parasite.

Salmonellosis is a disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella. Salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of animals, including birds.
The disease is usually transmitted to humans by eating foods contaminated with animal feces or when a person comes into direct contact with an infected animal or person and transfers the bacteria from hands to mouth.

Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease caused by Toxoplasma gondii, transmitted through the mouth when oocysts or tissue cysts are accidentally eaten. Congenital transmittance from mother to fetus can also occur.

Toxoplasmosis is usually spread by exposure to infected cat feces. Cats excrete the pathogen in their feces for a number of weeks after contracting the disease, generally by eating an infected intermediate host that could include mammals (like rodents) or birds. In addition to cats, birds and mammals including human beings are also intermediate hosts of the parasite and are involved in the transmission process. However the pathogenicity varies with the age and species involved in infection and the mode of transmission of T. gondii.


Histoplasmosis is a type of lung infection. It is caused by inhaling Histoplasma capsulatum fungal spores. These spores are found in soil enriched by the droppings of bats and birds (especially chickens) that are more than 3 years old. 

These soils may exist around old chicken coops, near roosts of starlings and blackbirds, in decaying trees, in caves, and other areas where bats live – including indoors in attics. 

The fungus produces spores that get into the air if the contaminated soil is disturbed. Inhaling these spores causes infection.

Most cases of histoplasmosis don’t require treatment. In fact, many people never show any symptoms. When someone does get sick, the illness can vary from a mild respiratory disease to a serious illness that effects the entire body. 

If you suspect you have contracted histoplasmosis and are experiencing mild to severe symptoms, you should seek medical treatment. Antibiotics may be necessary. 

Once you have contracted histoplasmosis, you do not usually get it again. 


Psittacosis—also known as parrot fever, and ornithosis—is a zoonotic infectious disease in humans caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia psittaci and contracted from infected parrots, such as macaws, cockatiels, and budgerigars, and from pigeons, sparrows, ducks, hens, gulls and many other species of birds.

 To prevent infection:

– Do not handle wild birds, wear gloves when handling birds that are pets

– Wear a fitted mask when cleaning areas with visable amounts of droppings

– Wash your hands