Most people do not have the direct, intense contact with wild birds that wildlife rehabilitators have. Because of this intense, direct contact with sick animals, their feces and secretions, wildlife rehabilitators should take specific precautions to protect themselves and the animals they work with from exposure to avian influenza and other birds.
The following precautions are advised when handling sick birds:
- Wear disposable gloves, goggles, and masks when handling sick animals or cleaning cages
- Isolate sick birds from all other animals
- Sterilize work area, food dishes, and other tools regularly
- Wash hands between animals to prevent cross contamination
- Thoroughly wash hands, shoes, and clothes
Practice good, clean habits with your birds:
- Keep all wild birds away from food and water
- Keep pet bird away from kitchen and dining area
- Outdoor aviary should have solid roof and fine mesh panels
- Keep new birds away (1 month) to ensure disease free
- Clean food and water containers weekly
- Clean stuck-on matter with soap and water, then apply disinfectant. Let sit 10-20 minutes before rinsing and drying off
- Keep the birds away from areas of the home where family congregate to eat, play, sleep or prepare food.
- Only the wildlife rehabilitator should visit the birds or step into the are where birds are kept.
- Keep mammals and birds separated.
- Avoid using disinfectants near birds - it may be toxic to them
- Wear gloves when cleaning
- Wash hands thoroughly after cleaning or after handling the bird
Some birds are too ill to be rehabilitated or fail to respond to treatment. Several species of bird that fall victim to avian influenza die or must be euthanized.