Skip to content
Psittacosis (Ornithosis, Chlamydiosis): Psittacosis is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci. C. psittaci is common in wild birds and can occur in laboratory bird colonies. Infected birds are highly contagious to other birds and to humans. The organism is spread to humans by aerosolization of respiratory secretions or feces from the infected birds. Typical symptoms in the bird are diarrhea, ocular discharge, and nasal discharge. The infection in humans by C.psittaci, can cause fever, headache, myalgia chills, and upper and lower respiratory disease. Serious complications can occur and include pneumonia, hepatitis, myocarditis, thrombophlebitis and encephalitis. It is responsive to antibiotic therapy but relapses can occur in untreated infections.
Prevention: Only disease-free flocks should be allowed into the research facility. Wild-caught birds or birds of unknown status should be treated prophylactically for 45 days with chlortetracycline. Animal Biosafety Level 2 practices are recommended for personnel working with naturally infected birds or experimentally infected birds. Wearing NIOSH certified dust masks should be considered in rooms housing birds of unknown health status.
Newcastle Disease: Newcastle disease is caused by a paramyxovirus and can be seen in birds both wild and domestic. Transmission is mainly by aerosol but contaminated food, water and equipment can also transmit the infection within bird colonies. Pathogenic strains produce anorexia and respiratory disease in adult birds.Young birds often show neurologic signs. In humans the disease is characterized by conjunctivitis, fever, and respiratory symptoms.
Prevention: The disease can be prevented by immunizing susceptible birds and obtaining birds from flocks free of infection. Good personal-hygiene practices which include hand washing after handling animals or their waste should be in place.
Salmonellosis: Along with a variety of other species, Salmonella, and other enteric bacteria are capable of causing disease in humans. Salmonellae are transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Infection produces an acute enterocolitis and fever with possible secondary complications such as septicemia.
Prevention: Use of protective clothing, personal hygiene which include hand washing after contact with animals or their waste, and sanitation measures prevent the transmission of the disease.
Campylobacter: Campylobacter species can be found in pet and laboratory animal species. Transmission to humans is by the fecal-oral route and can produce an acute enteritis. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting.
Prevention: Use of personal protective clothing, good personal hygiene, and sanitation measures will help to prevent the transmission of the disease.
Influenza: Humans are the reservoir for the human-influenza virus but animal reservoirs are thought to contribute to the emergence of new human strains. Animal specific antigenic strains of influenza occur naturally in avian species, swine, horses, mink and seals and may contribute to new human strains. Transmission is air-borne or by direct contact but the transmission of animal strains of influenza to humans is rare. Symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, cough, and rhinitis. Pneumonia along with vomiting and diarrhea can also develop.
Prevention: Good hygiene and sanitation measures will help to prevent the transmission of the disease.
Risk assessment- UC Davis
Occupational Health and Safety in the Care and Use of Research Animals, National Research Council; National Academy Press, 1997.
Center for Disease Control- Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases