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Pet Birds, IAQ & Your Health

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Published on Feb 19, 2015

According to some estimates, there are over 20 million pet birds residing in almost 7 million households in the United States. These pets bring joy and happiness to their owners, but they can also impact the indoor air quality of a home and on rare occasions may cause human illnesses.

In addition to potential odors issues, perhaps one of the most common concerns associated with pet birds is their ability to trigger allergies in some people. The usual source of the allergens is the pet bird’s dander or even dust mites which can collect in the bird’s feathers.

Pet owners can also be exposed to pathogens from their birds through inhalation, ingestion or through cuts and abrasions on their skin. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following four diseases associated with pet birds, although they may not occur frequently in the U.S.:
• Cryptococcosis (Cryptococcus neoformans) - People get cryptococcosis by breathing in contaminated dust or getting it in open wounds. In humans, symptoms resemble pneumonia and include shortness of breath, coughing, and fever. Skin infections can also occur. Infants, the elderly and those with a weakened immune system can be more susceptible to serious infections.
• Histoplasmosis (Histoplasma capsulatum) - Histoplasmosis is a fungal disease that is spread to people when they breathe in dust from pigeon or bat droppings.
• Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC, Avian Tuberculosis) - MAC is a bacterial disease spread to people from birds and other animals through the environment, though it is not clear exactly how the bacteria are transmitted.
• Parrot Fever (Psittacosis; Chlamydiophila psittaci) - Parrot fever is a bacterial disease that people can get after accidentally breathing in secretions of infected psittacine birds, including parrots and parakeets, or poultry and wild birds.

Another potential health concern associated with birds is bird fancier’s lung (BFL), a type of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) associated mainly with exposure to dry dusts from bird droppings. In recent years, avian influenza outbreaks have also occurred in other parts of the world.

These are just a few things to know about pet birds, indoor air quality and your health. To learn more about this or other health and safety, indoor air quality, occupational or environmental issues, please visit the websites shown in the video and below.

Clark Seif Clark http://www.csceng.com
EMSL Analytical, Inc. http://www.emsl.com
Indoor Environmental Consultants, Inc. http://www.iecinc.net
LA Testing http://www.latesting.com
Maine Indoor Air Quality Council http://www.maineindoorair.org
Zimmetry Environmental http://www.zimmetry.com
Healthy Indoors Magazine http://www.iaq.net
Hudson Douglas Public Adjusters http://HudsonDouglasPublicAdjusters.com

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