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Parrots and COVID-19

The whole world is one flock as we face the COVID-19 crisis together. Here at Bird Street Bistro, we're doing our best to help bird and parrot owners look out for their feathered companions. Many concerned customers have been reaching out to us with questions regarding the possibility of their parrots and COVID-19. As a result, we've decided to compile answers to common questions based on the most up-to-date information coming out of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), World Health Organization (WHO) and American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).

Answering the Big Questions About Parrots and COVID

The COVID-19 crisis has all of us concerned about the welfare of our families. For many of us, this includes our beloved parrots. You may also be worried about the impact COVID-19 could have on your parrot or pet bird in the event that you or someone in your household contracts the virus. We'll cover what that could mean for parrots in just a moment. Are parrots contagious? We'll also discuss that possibility. Let's begin by diving into what we know about COVID-19 and pets at this stage straight from the agencies and experts tasked with keeping the public safe.

Can COVID-19 Infect Parrots?

All we have to go on right now is what the CDC is sharing with the public. The CDC does not have a clear answer. This is mostly due to the fact that not enough data has been gathered to make a determination. On a positive note, the CDC has not yet come across any evidence that pet dogs or cats can be sources of infection. The CDC confirms that it has not received any reports to date of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. Here's the official statement from the CDC on the matter:

"CDC has not received any reports of pets or other animals becoming sick with COVID-19. Further studies are needed to understand if and how different animals could be affected by COVID-19." Center for Disease Control & Prevention

Obviously, a parrot is a very different animal than a dog or cat. However, this may be an advantage when it comes to the spread of COVID-19. That's because researchers know that coronaviruses often spread more easily between mammals than they do between mammals and non-mammals. The fact that there's no solid evidence to support the transfer of the virus between humans and pet dogs or cats means that the spread between humans and birds is even less likely. Something else to keep in mind is that most human diseases and viruses are not transmittable to parrots. This includes things like the flu and common cold. However, that doesn't create assurance that parrots are immune to catching COVID-19 from humans. It's simply too early to say whether or not parrots can contract COVID-19 in any concrete way. Yes, it's only natural for bird lovers to be concerned about potentially passing this highly contagious virus to a pet parrot. This is where it becomes important to keep some perspective. As a bird lover, you probably already know that it's important to protect the health and wellness of your bird at all times. This means you're already in the habit of practicing smart hygiene and preventing the transmission of any germs that could be harmful to birds. For more information on parrot care essentials click here.

10 Essential Rules in Parrot Care

Some viruses and bacterial infections that are harmful to birds can be passed on even when humans don't display any symptoms. This is especially true when it comes to things like bacteria that cause eye infections or gastrointestinal issues. Parrots are also susceptible to bird flu. Here are some tips for keeping your parrot healthy from harmful bacteria and viruses under any circumstances:

  • Avoid kissing your parrot.
  • Wash your hands before handling your parrot.
  • Avoid sharing food with your parrot.
  • Cut fresh fruit instead of providing "leftovers" to your parrot.
  • Disinfect all areas in and around your parrot’s habitat regularly.

While we're not saying that COVID-19 can be transmitted between humans and parrots, we'll still cover the potential ways that the virus could be transmitted. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), transmission typically stems from contact with an infected person's bodily secretions. This includes saliva or mucus that may be released during a sneeze or cough. It also appears that transmission can occur via a secondary route through contact with a contaminated surface or object. This is essentially all that we know so far regarding the relationship between parrots of COVID-19. You may have some specific questions regarding what to do if you have concerns about COVID-19 exposure in your home. Keep reading to learn about what to do if you have any worries about your parrot coming into contact with COVID-19.

How Should You Interact With Your Parrot During the COVID-19 Outbreak?

The AVMA is suggesting that you continue to interact with your pet as you normally do if you are not ill with COVID-19. Of course, this means keeping up the same good hygiene that you normally practice. Maintaining a clean, healthy environment for your parrot is a two-way street that protects both human and bird health.

Can A Person With COVID-19 Still Be Around A Parrot?

Everyone's first priority should be avoiding transmitting the virus to any person or pet. The American Veterinary Medical Association is recommending that you apply the same common-sense precautions to both humans and pets if you become ill. Limit contact with your parrot by as much as possible. This may mean entrusting the care of your bird to someone else in your household while you recover. If you live alone with your parrot, it's important to continue to provide food and water for your parrot even while you are ill. It is recommended that you cover your hands and mouth when providing food and water to your parrot. You should also strongly consider moving your parrot's cage to a different room in your home to create distance.

Why Preparing Now Is Important

Nobody wants to face the reality of having to prepare for a serious illness. However, part of the responsibility of being a parrot owner is planning ahead for a bird's best interests. You may be unable to leave your home for an extended period of time if you contract COVID-19. Make sure you have an "emergency" bird kit prepared that will provide enough food and water for your parrot for at least two weeks.

Can You Bring Your Parrot to the Veterinarian During the COVID-19 Outbreak?

Most veterinary offices around the country will only be accepting emergency patients during the COVID-19 outbreak. Make sure to call ahead to ask about any special procedures that are in place during a quarantine period. Your local clinic may be limiting the number of people permitted in the building at one time. What about if your pet has a health emergency while you are sick with COVID-19? It's understandable that you'll want to get your parrot looked at as quickly as possible. However, you should not leave your home if you are infected with COVID-19. This is a situation where you're going to need to contact both your local veterinary office and health authority to seek guidance for how to handle the situation. Trying to bring your pet to a veterinary office for treatment while you are sick could put many people at risk. Local authorities will be able to help you figure out the best and safest way to get your parrot the care it needs without endangering others.

What Do I Do If My Parrot Appears Ill After Being Around Someone Who Has Been Diagnosed With COVID-19?

This is another situation where you'll need to contact your veterinarian and local health authorities. A situation where a bird may have contracted COVID-19 from a human is something that public health officials will be very interested to know about. What's more, they will be able to provide you with a safe way to get your bird the evaluation and care it needs without endangering other people and animals. Showing up to a vet's office with a sick bird who has potentially been exposed to COVOD-19 is a reckless move. Calling ahead will give clinic staff an opportunity to properly prepare to provide parrot care in an isolated area.

Are You Concerned Because You Just Imported a Parrot From a High-Risk Area?

You may be feeling concerned if you recently welcomed a new parrot into your home that was shipped in from an area that is currently experiencing a large number of COVID-19 cases. Again, there is no evidence to suggest that parrots can catch or transmit COVID-19 at present time. It is still recommended that you place any new bird in quarantine for at least 30 days after bringing it home before you place it with other birds. Are parrots contagious? Again, we don't have any evidence to suggest that parrots can transmit COVID-19. What we know is that contagiousness between birds is possible for other known avian illnesses. It's still going to be important to observe your new parrot for any signs of distress or illness. Of course, this is the protocol any time we welcome a new pet into our homes. Travel and exposure to new environments can create health issues in pet birds even outside of the COVID-19 situation. Keep a close eye on grooming behaviors, eating habits and stool composition during the first weeks of having a new parrot in your home. If you feel concerned about something, put a call in to your veterinarian. It will be necessary for you to alert your veterinarian to the fact that you've imported your parrot from a place that is considered a high-risk area for COVID-19 before booking an appointment in the office.

Can Parrots Be Tested for COVID-19?

We do not know of any testing that is available for pets or animals in the United States as of right now. This is very much a developing situation. If possible, get on the mailing list of any local veterinary clinics that may be able to alert you if and when COVID-19 tests for pets become available.

How Should I Handle Parrot Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

You can go ahead and treat your parrot with the same love and attentiveness that you always provide! Of course, even business as usual with a parrot means washing your hands before handling your bird and avoiding mouth-to-mouth contact. It's perfectly fine to keep engaging with your bird if you don't have any reason to suspect that you've been exposed to COVID-19. As always, providing your bird with adequate hydration and nutrition is essential for parrot health! Make sure that any suspected vitamin deficiencies are being addressed to ensure that your parrot's immune system is strong. This can often be taken care of through a nutritious diet and supplemental cuttlebone.

The final word on parrots and COVID is that we don't yet have any reason to suspect that this virus can affect parrot health. Obviously, much more about the way this virus transmits and progresses will be learned in the weeks and months to come. Don't hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian or local health authority if you have any questions at all regarding COVID-19 and your parrot. None of the information we've shared here should be confused as a replacement for proper medical advice from a qualified professional. The family at Bird Street Bistro wishes everyone in our flock continued health and peace during this very trying time. We will continue to meet your parrot's nourishment needs just as we always have.

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