Can parrots be infected by viruses, bacteria or parasites affecting wild birds?

Q.My parrot enjoys spending time in the garden (I place his cage in a nice shady spot), but I’m worried about diseases he could pick up from wild birds. Can parrots be infected by viruses, bacteria or parasites affecting wild birds and is there anything I can do to protect him?

A. Although your parrot clearly loves spending time outside, it is important to take some precautions to protect him. He could pick up illnesses from wild birds, and essentially all diseases that affect wild birds will affect your parrot too. One of the more dangerous bacteria he could be exposed to is salmonella, which causes enteritis and is common, especially among pigeons. Another potential danger is internal parasites such as round worms and tape worms. Young parrots in particular will be very susceptible to viruses, such as the Paramyxo virus.

So there are, unfortunately, quite a few sicknesses which could affect your parrot. Rather than keeping him in isolation, simply take a few safety measures:

* Ensure that the area where he spends his time outside is clean and disinfected properly.

* Also keep an eye out for wild birds who appear to be sick and simply keep your parrot away from them and the danger of being infected.

* If you have a stand or a perch outside on which you feed your parrot, make sure that wild birds do not eat from the same bowl or container as your parrot, as this is an easy way for your parrot to pick up diseases.

If you take these into consideration there is no reason why you and your parrot shouldn’t be able to enjoy the outdoors!

Dr Deon de Beer, avian veterinarian at Bird Clinic

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