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There are to infectious animal diseases that are communicable to humans. The infectious agents can be protozol, fungal, bacterial, chlamydial or viral. Individual susceptibility and the seriousness of these various microbial infections varies with age, health status, immune status, and whether early therapeutic intervention is sought. The ability of a microorganism to make a person sick varies with the virulence of the organism, the dose to which theperson is exposed, as well as route of infection.
Chlamydiosis, salmonellosis, arizonosis, and colibacillosis arethe most common of these infections. Chlamydiosis, salmonellosis, eastern equine encephalitis and avian tuberculosis may be seriousand even life- threatening. Chlamydiosis
Chlamydia psittaci, an unusual bacteria-like organism, occursworldwide and affects more than 100 avian species. It causes adisease called psittacosis or parrot fever when it occurs in psittacine birds, andthe disease is called ornithosis when diagnosed in all otherbirds or in humans.
In the U.S., chlamydiosis is a major problem with turkeys, pigeons, and psittacines. In Europe, the main avian species
affected are ducks and geese. Some birds (turkeys) are extremely susceptible to chlamydiosis, while others (chickens) are more resistant. Chlamydiosis is primarily transmitted by inhalation of contaminated fecal dust and is spread by carrier birds, which act as the main reservoirs for the disease. The organism is excreted in both the feces and nasal secretions. Shedding is sporadic and is usually induced by stress. A carrier state can persist for years. The organism survives drying, which facilitates oral spread and allows transmission on contaminated clothing and equipment. Chlamydiosis can be transmitted bird to bird, feces to bird, and bird to human. Human to human transmission can occur, mainly by exposure to patient's saliva.
Chlamydiosis is an occupational hazard for persons working with psittacines (parrots, parakeets, etc.) and pigeons, or for people working in turkey slaughter plants and avian diagnostic laboratories. The incubation period for chlamydiosis is 4-15 days, although 10 days is most common. In affected birds, diarrhea, coughing, and ocular and nasal discharges are common signs. There may be a high mortality rate if the disease is unrecognized or untreated. With turkeys there is a drop in egg production. In humans, chlamydiosis manifests itself as a feverish respiratory disease. There is usually a sudden onset with chills, muscle and joint pains, headache, cough, loss of appetite, and chest pains. Complications may result from an enlarged spleen, inflammation of the heart muscle, and a reduced heart rate. Affected humans are treated with tetracycline for at least 21 days. Because this antibiotic may become irreversibly bound to certain minerals, the calcium content of food needs to be kept low during treatment.
There are approximately 200 different serotypes of Salmonella species. Most animals are susceptible to salmonella infection. This bacterial disease occurs most frequently in stressed individuals. Many infections are subclinical. Common clinical symptoms in all species include diarrhea, vomiting, and a low-grade fever. Infections -can progress to dehydration,
weakness, and sometimes, especially in the very young or very old, death. In severe cases there can be a high fever, septicemia (blood poisoning), headaches, and an enlarged painful spleen. Focal infections may occur in any organ, including heart, kidney, joints, meninges (membranes which surround and protect the brain and spinal cord), and the periosteum (fibrous membrane of connective tissue which closely surrounds all bones except at thejoints). The incubation period is 6-72 hours, although 12-36 hours is most common. Salmonella are transmitted by ingestion of food contaminated by fecal matter (fecal-oral route). Excretion of the bacteria commonly varies from a few days to weeks. In some instances (e.g., S. typhi, typhoid fever) infected persons can shed bacteria for life. S. enteriditis in avian fecal material is able to penetrate eggshells, and may be present in uncooked eggs. In most cases, treatment of salmonellosis simply involves treatment of the symptoms with fluids and electrolytes. Antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, nitrofurans, or ampicillin are only indicated when the bacteria has localized in areas of the body peripheral to the intestinal tract.
Colibacillosis is caused by Escherichia coli infection. E. coli is a bacteria which normally inhabits the intestinal tract of all
animals. There are a number of different strains, many species-specific. Not all strains are pathogenic. In poultry, E. coli infections may cause septicemia, chronic respiratory disease, synovitis (inflammation of the joints which can lead to lameness), pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart), and salpingitis (inflammation of the oviduct). Humans
with colibacillosis usually manifest diarrhea which may be complicated by other syndromes depending on the E. coli serotype. These complications may include fever, dysentery, shock, and purpura (multiple small purplish hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes). The incubation period is 12 hours to 5 days, although 12-72 hours
is most common. Transmission is via the fecal-oral route.
Colibacillosis is often food- or water-borne. In most cases, symptomatic treatment (fluids, antidiarrheals) is
all that is required. In more severe infections, antibiotics such as tetracycline and chloramphenicol may be necessary.
Eastern Equine Encephalitis
Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is caused by a RNA virus in thegenus Alphavirus , family Togaviridae. Outbreaks can occur incommercially raised pheasants, chickens, bobwhite quail, ducks, turkeys, and emus. Abdominal distress and dysentery are the most obvious signs. EEE is mosquito-borne. The virus circulates in a mosquito-bird cycle in which passerine birds (i.e., song birds such as swallows, starlings, jays, and finches) are the most common reservoir. The mosquitoes become infected and feed on birds, horses, and humans, further spreading the infection. In pheasants, initial infection is mosquito-borne, but additional dissemination occurs by pecking and cannibalism. Most epidemics occur between late August and the first frost. Cases may occur year-round in areas like Florida which have a prolonged mosquito season. EEE usually affects persons under 15 or over 50 years of age. In adults there is a sudden onset of high fever, headache, vomiting, and lethargy, progressing rapidly to neck stiffness, convulsions, spasticity, delirium, tremors, stupor and coma. In children, EEE is typically manifested by fever, headaches and vomiting for 1-2 days. After an apparent recovery, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) is characterized by quick onset and great severity follows. Retardation or other permanent neurologic consequences are common in survivors.
Certain fungi prefer to grow in soils enriched with avian manures. Histoplasma capsulatum is one of these. The fungus is
also associated with construction sites and caves. Birds are not susceptible to infection, but histoplasmosis can affect humans, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, horses, and many wild mammals. The incubation period is 7-14 days. Most cases in humans are asymptomatic. Disease may be manifested in three forms: acute pulmonary (most common), chronic cavitary pulmonary, and disseminated. The acute pulmonary form is influenza-like and lasts up to several weeks. It is characterized by chills, chest pain, nonproductive cough, fever, and malaise. The chronic form occurs in people over 40 and resembles tuberculosis. It is characterized by a productive cough, pus-like sputum (material expelled from the respiratory passages), weight loss, and shortness of breath. The disseminated form occurs in the very young or the elderly. Lesions include enlarged spleen and liver, and mucosal ulceration. The disseminated form of histoplasmosis can be fatal if not treated. Amphotericin B has been used to treat histoplasmosis. Transmission occurs by inhalation of spores produced by growth of the mold. Histoplasmosis is not a communicable disease. The reservoir is the soil, especially when enriched with droppings from birds or bats. Wet the area and wear a face mask or respirator when working in suspect surroundings. Spraying the soil with a formaldehyde solution has been used to kill the fungus.