Jordan Walker is a pet lover who does not limit himself to learning about how to connect with pets. He also makes it a point to inform others about pet-related illnesses. In this post, the curator of Coops and Cages writes about four diseases caused by chickens.
Diseases Caused by Chickens: Get to Know Them
Salmonella is a germ that avian life usually carry. Poultry domesticated birds like turkeys and chickens — whether commercial farm chickens, backyard chickens, or organically-raised chickens — could all carry Salmonella. This bacterium does not cause any illnesses on the avian carrier, but it has harmful effects on humans. Just like the effects of a virus, this germ can be contracted by coming into contact with chickens and their immediate environment.
The Salmonella germs can attach to anything that the chickens touch. In turn, the germs cling on to people that get close (just like what parasites do to the body). These people are likely to become infected if they place their hands close to their mouths. Among the effects of this germ to the body includes diarrhea and intense weakening. That’s why, after touching or getting anywhere near the chickens, it is advised you should immediately wash and scrub your hands vigorously. That would lessen the chances of you getting sick because of Salmonella.
2. Urinary Tract Infection
As if humans weren’t already susceptible to urinary tract infection or UTI, animals like birds, turkeys, and chickens have to get into the picture too. It has been found out that a bacterium found in the chickens’ intestines can be transmitted to humans. Enterococcus faecalis is the bacteria that causes UTI. And this is why some cases of UTI can be considered as one of the infectious diseases caused by chickens.
Just like the Salmonella, E. faecalis is thought to be transmitted to humans by way of the bird or chicken feces. The bacterium would then spread in the surroundings, even into the water. And any human that comes into contact directly with the poultry or with the dirt would become a likely victim.
If no proper preventative steps are taken, a person carrying the bacteria on their hands could handle food that would then become contaminated, and from which the next unwary victim could develop UTI. That’s why the next time you want to drink from an outdoor water source, you should be careful.
Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus usually affects the lungs, but symptoms can also occur in other parts of the body. Vulnerable parts include the eyes, skin, adrenal glands, nervous system, and liver.
H. capsulatum can live happily in moist places, but will most likely be present in environments where poultry animals are kept, particularly their coops. This specific fungus comes also from the droppings of chicken. They populate the air as spores and enter the human body through the respiratory system.
At first, the symptoms it causes are not severe, but in actuality histoplasmosis is acute. To give you an idea how bad it is, histoplasmosis is very similar to tuberculosis.
For infection to be prevented, before you go anywhere near poultry animals, you have to make sure you are wearing protective gear, especially face masks. Another thing you can do is to clean your chickens’ coops regularly.
4. Campylobacter Infection
Campylobacter has effects on humans similar to those of Salmonella. Infected humans would suffer severe symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and fever. Exposure to them could also cause lessened immunity which could lead to more complications.
As with Salmonella, Campylobacter is abundant in bird or chicken droppings. Humans may get this bacteria by eating infected bird meat, chicken meat, or eggs. Cooking the meat or eggs thoroughly will help kill the bacteria.
To protect yourself against these infections, you have to make sure you cook your chickens to a crisp first. Also, if you own backyard chickens, make sure to always prepare some antibiotics as part of your first aid kit at home.
And while the above-listed diseases are most common in domestic or commercial farm settings, you must not forget there are other avian lifeforms that carry these. For example, in the wild, bats and other types of birds, too, can transmit similar diseases to humans. You may unknowingly inhale infected air or come in contact with something that has the bacteria. The effects of the various bacteria mentioned are similar to those of virus or parasites. So it’s best to be on your guard against these infectious diseases especially when you’re enjoying the outdoors. There are no vaccines available to protect you from these diseases, but antibiotics might help relieve the pain or other effects the identified bacteria will cause the body.
Don’t let these dangers deter you from raising poultry birds like chickens. A dedicated chicken farmer who raises healthy birds and follows the right safety protocol will not have to worry about contamination. Healthy chickens start with healthy coops.
Do you know other diseases caused by chickens? Share with us your insights in the comments sections below.
Up Next: The Chicken Coop Checklist
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Editor’s Note: This post was first published in July 2016 and has been updated for quality and relevancy.