| Birds can carry organisms that may be potentially
infectious to humans. Bird colonies in the laboratory setting are
closely managed to produce high quality, healthy animal models.
The likelihood of a person contracting a disease from a bird is
very low. However, there is always a risk of an outbreak occurring
within a colony, either from new animals being introduced into an
established colony or from individuals with asymptomatic disease-carrying
pet birds inadvertently contaminating a colony via their shoes or
clothing. A disease, such as psittacosis, is infectious
both to other birds and to people; therefore an outbreak within
a colony could significantly increase the risk of human exposure.
- Approved respirator masks (e.g., Type N95
by 3M company), gloves and outer clothing, such as a lab coat
or surgical gown, should be worn at all times when working with
- Wash hands after handling animals;
- When seeking medical advice for any illness,
inform your physician that you work with birds.
To reduce the risk of exposure to allergens
when birds are transported to or used in laboratories, staff are
advised to adhere to the following practices:
- Perform procedures in a laminar flow hood
- Minimize wearing protective clothing such
as lab coats outside of animal areas;
- Keep transport carriers out of labs/offices/public
- Use disposable supplies whenever possible;
- Sanitize lab benches after animal work;
- Follow posted Personal Protective Clothing
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RESPONSE TO INJURY
The species of birds maintained at UCSF are
usually docile animals. If injury does occur:
- Wash any injured site with soap and water
for at least 15 minutes;
- Control bleeding by applying direct pressure
with a sterile gauze or bandage;
- Cover wound with clean bandage (do not apply
ointment or spray);
- Seek advice from emergency room physician.
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Psittacosis (Ornithosis, Chlamydiosis):
Psittacosis is a disease caused by the bacteria, Chlamydia
psittaci. Psittacosis is common in wild birds of all types
and can occur in laboratory bird colonies as well.
- Reservoir/source of infection to people:
Infected birds, especially ones displaying symptoms (diarrhea,
respiratory signs, conjunctivitis and nasal discharge) are highly
contagious to other birds and to humans;
- Transmission: The disease is spread by direct
contact or from aerosolization with exudative materials (e.g.
pus), secretions or feces. Direct contact with the bird
is not necessary;
- Disease in people: 7-14 days after exposure,
an infected human may develop a respiratory illness of varying
severity: from flu-like symptoms in mild cases to pneumonia
in more significant infections. Serious cases can result in
extensive pneumonia, hepatitis, myocarditis, thrombophlebitis,
and encephalitis. It is responsive to antibiotic therapy. Relapses
occur in untreated infections.
caused by the bacteria, Mycobacterium avium, and Newcastle
disease, caused by a paramyxovirus, both pose a potential hazard,
although both diseases are more closely associated with chickens
and wild birds.
- Transmission: contact or inhalation of infective
aerosols. As in other species, Salmonella, and other
enteric pathogens can cause disease in humans.
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Various bird proteins have been identified
as sources of antigens involved in both allergic reactions and
hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Hypersensitivity pneumonitis is
a lung condition with symptoms that mimic pneumonia. Symptoms
develop after repeated exposure to a specific antigen found in
Signs of an allergic reaction after exposure
to birds are rhinitis and asthma symptoms. Signs and symptoms
of both allergic reactions and hypersensitivity pneumonitis usually
occur several hours after exposure.