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Online Discussion: Tracking new emerging diseases and the next pandemic

Bird feeding, any risks?

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DeepThinker View Drop Down
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    Posted: March 18 2018 at 10:55pm
I have several types of seed, suet and humming bird feeders in my back yard.   I mostly attract humming birds, hooded orioles, house finches, a couple of lessor gold finches, house sparrows, and one impressive western scrub jay.

Does handling the bird feeders put me at risk for bird flu?
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arirish View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (2) Thanks(2)   Quote arirish Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 18 2018 at 11:40pm
DT- I'm a long time birder and I have nine words for you! Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands! (or) wear surgical gloves (3X), take your pick! My feeders are always spotted with bird droppings and it's impossible to know what viruses birds carry! I don't remember ever hearing of song birds having AI but i'm sure it's possible! With all flu the best offense is a good defense!     
Buy more ammo!
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CRS, DrPH View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 19 2018 at 2:18pm
This is in my wheelhouse (infectious disease specialist) - you are most at risk of bacterial infections including Salmonella and Campylobacter, just as you are from raw eggs & poultry.  The agent for "parrot fever" (psittacosis) is another risk, although pretty distant. 

Contracting any type of bird flu is a stretch, although theoretically possible.  Globally, the folks who get bird flu (H5N1, H7N9 etc.) have to nearly wallow in bird secretions at wet markets, poultry operations etc.  

Just wash your hands with soap and water when you come into contact with any avian life, whether in the backyard, kitchen or farm.  Also, avoid rubbing your eyes/mouth before you wash your hands!  
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote Technophobe Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 19 2018 at 3:22pm
Great advice!+

Dead birds can pose additional risk (What did it die of?).  Advice from our authorities in last bird-flu scare was:  Put on rubber gloves.  Turn plastic bag inside out over gloved hand(s)  Pick up bird with this and tie up without touching bird directly.  Put another bag over this and tie up.  Dispose of in household rubbish.  Wash hands.


Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote CRS, DrPH Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: March 19 2018 at 9:44pm
Originally posted by Technophobe Technophobe wrote:

Great advice!+

Dead birds can pose additional risk (What did it die of?).  Advice from our authorities in last bird-flu scare was:  Put on rubber gloves.  Turn plastic bag inside out over gloved hand(s)  Pick up bird with this and tie up without touching bird directly.  Put another bag over this and tie up.  Dispose of in household rubbish.  Wash hands.



Also great advice, thanks!  Generally, I don't touch dead stuff unless I have to, and then I use garden implements to pick 'em up.  

In Illinois USA, we have dead birds appear from West Nile Virus, which is now endemic in our area.  It's a nasty virus, persisting in avian reservoir (crows, robins, cardinals) and infecting mosquitos during blood meals.  Infected mosquitos then feed on humans and transmit the virus.  We always have several fatalities in our area every year, the elderly are particularly vulnerable to WNV.
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