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Can Chickens Spread Disease To Parrots?

Last Updated on January 28, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

Due to their contrasting diet and lifestyle requirements, parrots and chickens seldom live together. That said, some owners allow parrots to mix with chickens for companionship.

If parrots and chickens are to combine, health precautions must be taken to keep everyone safe. Some infectious diseases are common in poultry and can be transmitted to parrots.

Chickens can give parrots respiratory infections like mycoplasmosis and avian flu. Bacterial infections, like salmonella and avian chlamydiosis, and fungal infections, like Aspergillus, are also common.

While parrots and chickens can get along well if housed together, be mindful of the health risks. Vaccinate chickens against contagious diseases and monitor them closely for signs of illness and disease. 

Housing Parrots with Chickens

Chickens usually live in backyards, while parrots live in cages inside the home or an outdoor aviary. These bird species also have entirely different dietary requirements.

A parrot obviously can’t free-roam outside due to the high likelihood of escape. However, these two species can get along if you have a large henhouse to meet a parrot’s exercise needs.

Housing parrots and chickens together can ensure the parrot doesn’t spend too much time alone.

Don’t leave them unsupervised until they’re used to each other. Poultry, in particular, can sometimes become territorial and aggressive.

Transference of Ectoparasites

Always be vigilant about the risk of parasites. Diseases of Poultry recommends that any new additions to a chicken coop are assessed for ectoparasites, like ticks and mites.

The Northern fowl mite (Ornithonyssus sylviarum) and red mite (Dermanyssus gallinae) are common ectoparasites in chicken flocks that can infest parrots.

Mites can pass infectious diseases between birds. Check for signs of ticks in a chicken coop because these bloodsucking arachnids carry and transmit sickness and disease.

Treat chickens and parrots for intestinal parasites like roundworms or tapeworms, even if no birds display symptoms. Parasite eggs (larvae) can be shed through fecal matter.

Chickens Can Give Parrots Diseases

Diseases can be rife in poultry coops because chickens live close to each other.

If one chicken falls ill, it won’t be long before other birds succumb. The cause could be airborne particles or infected animal waste, food, or water.

Not every disease that affects chickens can be passed to parrots, but many can. Effective vaccinations against diseases are less widely available for parrots than poultry.

Diseases Chickens And Parrots Share

If you intend to keep chickens and parrots together, there’s always the risk of disease transmission. It’s likelier that poultry will carry a disease that infects parrots, but the reverse can apply.

Infectious diseases can be passed between different bird species, including:

Mycoplasmosis (Chronic Respiratory Disease)

Mycoplasmosis takes its name from the Mycoplasma gallisepticum bacteria.

Mycoplasmosis is primarily a respiratory illness, with symptoms like coughing, sneezing, heavy breathing, and discharge from the beak. Inflammation of the eyes and hocks can also arise.

It can be hard to eliminate once mycoplasmosis takes hold in a chicken coop.

Mortality rates are low, especially in parrots. The Australian Veterinary Journal stated that treatment with the antibiotic oxytetracycline is usually highly effective against mycoplasmosis.

can parrots and chickens live together?

Psittacosis (Avian Chlamydiosis)

While psittacosis is colloquially referred to as Parrot Fever, it can also impact poultry.

A chicken with psittacosis will usually be diagnosed with the more formal name of avian chlamydiosis because Chlamydia psittaci causes psittacosis.

The most common cause of avian chlamydiosis is stress due to cramped living conditions.

The symptoms revolve around respiratory distress, which can also cause gastric issues. The bacterium then spreads quickly through feces.

Doxycycline is an antibiotic used to treat avian chlamydiosis. Parrots with psittacosis should be treated without delay because this significantly improves their chances of recovery.

Avian Influenza

Outbreaks of avian influenza can infect chickens and all bird species. Chickens can be vaccinated, but parrots seldom benefit because avian flu often mutates into new strains.

Salmonellosis

Salmonella is a bacterial infection that’s commonly associated with poultry.

It can be hard to identify salmonella because many infected chickens are asymptomatic. It can be equally hard to spot in parrots, although skin complaints can arise.

According to the Journal of Wildlife Diseases, salmonella is more common in the wild.

If free-roaming wildlife, including birds, make contact with chickens, the disease will spread through parasites and infected food and water supplies.

Aspergillosis

The spores of the Aspergillus fungi can cause respiratory distress in birds.

Once Aspergillus spores dry out in a chicken coop, they become airborne. Aspergillus spores can also contaminate animal feed and litter.

Keep the coop clean and provide ample ventilation to reduce the risk of infection.

The initial symptoms of Aspergillosis are respiratory. If left untreated, Aspergillosis can spread to the internal organs. Antifungal drugs, like itraconazole and fluconazole, will be required.

Marek’s Disease

In parrots, Marek’s disease is regarded as an ocular concern because the main symptom is discoloration of the eyes. It’ll eventually lead to paralysis and sudden death.

Marek’s disease is more common in chickens than parrots. A parrot is only likely to get this deadly disease if it spends time with infected poultry.

Vaccinate chickens on the day they hatch. According to the journal Vaccine, vaccination won’t stop Marek’s disease from spreading to other birds.

Newcastle Disease

Newcastle disease is a life-threatening but rare disease that harms the respiratory tract and nervous system. All birds imported into the U.S. are legally tested for Newcastle disease.

Chickens with Newcastle disease share the virus through their feces and saliva. The symptoms include respiratory distress, digestive upset, streaming from the eyes and nostrils, and loss of muscular control.

If you keep poultry, they should be vaccinated. According to Developmental and Comparative Immunology, vaccination isn’t 100% effective but reduces the risk of transmission.

This vaccine is ineffective for parrots, so keep them away from infected chickens. Avoid handling infected parrots because Newcastle disease is zoonotic (affects humans) and manifests as conjunctivitis (red eye).

Safely Mixing Chickens And Parrots

If you house parrots and chickens together or allow them to mix, you must minimize the risks:

  • Only get chickens from reputable hatcheries.
  • Administer available vaccines to chickens.
  • Quarantine new birds for 30-45 days before introducing them to others.
  • Remove and quarantine birds that show symptoms of illness.
  • Regularly clean a chicken coop, removing waste and damp litter.
  • Wash shared food or water sources with an antibacterial agent daily.
  • Always wash and sanitize your hands between handling chickens and parrots.
  • Protect food from other animals, including wild birds.
  • Feed all birds a healthy, balanced diet that boosts immunity.
  • Keep stress levels to a minimum.

Nobody can guarantee that chickens will never grow ill and pass on disease to parrots. However, these recommendations will reduce the likelihood of inter-species disease transference.