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Can birds give humans MRSA?

Gallows

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Hello. My grandmother lives with us, and has been admitted to the hospital for a long-overdue back surgery. While testing her for possible infections, the nurse swabs her nose and diagnoses her with MRSA. When looking into possible causes, the nurse asks us if we own any pets, and obviously we do.

We told her about our parakeets (which we breed), our finches, our parrots, our cats... She seemed to believe that our parakeets were the cause, and that my grandmother couldn't be around them. This is difficult, because we keep them indoors. The weather here is turbulent, and keeping them outdoors would definitely constitute as abuse without constant monitoring.

We offered to keep the parakeets on a different floor of the house while she's healing, and the nurse said that their dander would still cause issues. Basically, she's been insinuating that I should get rid of my parakeets before my grandmother comes home with us.

I've heard that people with cats are eight times more likely to contract MRSA. So I'm wondering why the nurse didn't think that the cats may be the cause? We have four of them. I'm thinking her suspicion may lie in the fact that we have twenty parakeets, and to someone who doesn't have birds, that might sound like a lot. But their cage is always crystal clean, and they're always tended to like little kings and queens.

So... opinions? I don't want to have to rehome a majority of my parakeets. They're my joy, and seeing them go would ruin me.
 

hrafn

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Yes, MRSA is a zoonotic illness that can be transferred from pets to humans; the risk is relatively low, however, unless you're actively handling things like substrate. Since you keep your cages clean, the potential dangers to your grandmother should be minimal.

If your cats are allowed outdoors, it's also possible that they were infected with MRSA outside of the home, and carried it in.
 

Tanya

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Hello. My grandmother lives with us, and has been admitted to the hospital for a long-overdue back surgery. While testing her for possible infections, the nurse swabs her nose and diagnoses her with MRSA. When looking into possible causes, the nurse asks us if we own any pets, and obviously we do.

We told her about our parakeets (which we breed), our finches, our parrots, our cats... She seemed to believe that our parakeets were the cause, and that my grandmother couldn't be around them. This is difficult, because we keep them indoors. The weather here is turbulent, and keeping them outdoors would definitely constitute as abuse without constant monitoring.

We offered to keep the parakeets on a different floor of the house while she's healing, and the nurse said that their dander would still cause issues. Basically, she's been insinuating that I should get rid of my parakeets before my grandmother comes home with us.

I've heard that people with cats are eight times more likely to contract MRSA. So I'm wondering why the nurse didn't think that the cats may be the cause? We have four of them. I'm thinking her suspicion may lie in the fact that we have twenty parakeets, and to someone who doesn't have birds, that might sound like a lot. But their cage is always crystal clean, and they're always tended to like little kings and queens.

So... opinions? I don't want to have to rehome a majority of my parakeets. They're my joy, and seeing them go would ruin me.

Disclaimer: I am not (yet) a doctor but am a medical student. I am answering the question as stated above without any special knowledge of the circumstances beyond what was provided above
.

Ok... Now that's out of the way...

Staphylococcus aureus (the SA in MRSA) are adaptable little guys that are happy to colonize mammalian noses and skin as commensual bacteria. Commensual shares the same root as the word commune... And these Staph aureus really are just hanging out and not causing trouble in almost one in three (30%) people during their everyday life. Staph aureus is a militant hippy though... If it sees a chance to disrupt the establishment because the police are weak (that is, cause infection due to a break in defenses or suppressed immunity), it will lay down the guitars and storm the castle for an epic lay-in.

Hospitals swab the nose of everyone who is admitted because if someone claims they got MRSA during their stay but already had it living in their nose when they arrived, then the hospital is not liable to get sued for a nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection. The reason they worry is that the Methacillin resistance (the MR in MRSA) gene in these bacteria make them able to destroy or evade the many types of antibiotics based on the structure of Penicillin (notice the shared -cillin ending of Methacillin and Penicillin). Basically, think of MRSA as hippies with power crystals that ward off bad vibes in the form of most standard antibiotics.

If your grandmother is not currently showing any symptoms of a Staph aureus infection, a positive test is not really a problem. It lets everyone know there's the potential for a problem, but not an active, storm the castle infection. A lot of healthcare professionals who are unfamiliar with aviculture are quick to say "Get rid of the birds" when they find anything like this test result. Also, they may not be aware that parakeets aren't nearly so dusty as 'toos and that even a large flock can easily be kept in good clean conditions.

If you are still worried, and don't yet have an air filter in the room with your birds, you could consider adding one as an upgrade. If you are worried that the birds might be carrying MRSA, you could have them screened at the vet (or work with a vet to learn how to do a throat swab of each bird at home). However, it is just as likely that your grandmother picked up MRSA at a Senior social, during a past hospitalization or from one of the cats. And even more than this, IF the birds actually carry Staph aureus and IF that strain happens to be Methacillin resistant, and IF your grandmother had enough close contact to pick up the bacteria from them, getting rid of your birds WON'T GET THE MRSA OUT OF HER NOSE. Oops. Did I yell a little there? Ahem. My bad.

My question in all of this is how do your cats manage with so many distracting finches and parakeets around the house? :)
 
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Macawnutz

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Disclaimer: I am not (yet) a doctor but am a medical student. I am answering the question as stated above without anyaspecial knowledge of the circumstances beyond what was provided above.


Ok... Now that's out of the way...


Staphylococcus aureus (the SA in MRSA) are adaptable little guys that are happy to colonize mammalian noses and skin as commensual bacteria. Commensual shares the same root as the word commune... And these Staph aureus really are just hanging out and not causing trouble in almost one in three (30%) people during their everyday life. Staph aureus is a militant hippy though... If it sees a chance to disrupt the establishment because the police are weak (that is, cause infection due to suppressed immunity), it will lay down the guitars and storm the castle for an epic lay-in.

Hospitals swab the nose of everyone who is admitted because if someone claims they got MRSA during their stay but already had it living in their nose when they arrived, then the hospital is not liable to get sued for a nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection. The reason they worry is that the Methacillin resistance (the MR in MRSA) gene in these bacteria make them able to kill or evade the many types of antibiotics based on the structure of Penicillin (notice the shared -cillin ending of Methacillin and Penicillin). Basically MRSA is hippies with power crystals that ward off bad vibes in the form of most standard antibiotics.

If your grandmother is not currently showing any symptoms of a Staph aureus infection, a positive test is not really a problem. It lets everyone know there's the potential for a problem, but not an active, storm the castle infection. A lot of healthcare professionals who are unfamiliar with aviculture are quick to say "Get rid of the birds" when they find anything like this test result. Also, they may not be aware that parakeets aren't nearly so dusty as 'toos and that even a large flock can easily be kept in good, clean conditions.

If you are still worried, and don't yet have an air filter in the room with your birds, you could consider adding one as an upgrade. If you are worried that the birds might be carrying MRSA, you could have them screened at the vet (or work with a vet to learn how to do a throat swab of each bird at home). However, it is just as likely that your grandmother picked up MRSA at a Senior social, during a past hospitalization or from one of the cats. And even more than this, IF the birds actually carry Staph aureus and IF that strain happens to be Methacillin resistant, and IF your grandmother had enough close contact to pick up the bacteria from them, getting rid of your birds WON'T GET THE MRSA OUT OF HER NOSE. Oops. Did I yell a little there? Ahem. My bad.

My question in all of this is how do your cats manage with so many distracting finches and parakeets around the house? :)


Just awesome. Lol
 

Zara

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Thanks for sharing that @Tanya ! ❤
 

Hankmacaw

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As some of you know, Both Hank and Jasper had MRSA at different times (separated by years). Hank's MRSA was in his throat and jasper's was in her air sacs. When hank had it The Vet and I had all of his staff, himself and me swabbed and tested - no one turned up positive. To this day we have no idea where the infection came from. The only thing I suspect is that I brought it home to them from the store on my hands. This small town seems to be a little cesspool of MRSA.

Believe me it was not easy to treat in either bird and Hank came close to dying.
 

Gallows

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Disclaimer: I am not (yet) a doctor but am a medical student. I am answering the question as stated above without any special knowledge of the circumstances beyond what was provided above
.

Ok... Now that's out of the way...

Staphylococcus aureus (the SA in MRSA) are adaptable little guys that are happy to colonize mammalian noses and skin as commensual bacteria. Commensual shares the same root as the word commune... And these Staph aureus really are just hanging out and not causing trouble in almost one in three (30%) people during their everyday life. Staph aureus is a militant hippy though... If it sees a chance to disrupt the establishment because the police are weak (that is, cause infection due to a break in defenses or suppressed immunity), it will lay down the guitars and storm the castle for an epic lay-in.

Hospitals swab the nose of everyone who is admitted because if someone claims they got MRSA during their stay but already had it living in their nose when they arrived, then the hospital is not liable to get sued for a nosocomial (hospital-acquired) infection. The reason they worry is that the Methacillin resistance (the MR in MRSA) gene in these bacteria make them able to destroy or evade the many types of antibiotics based on the structure of Penicillin (notice the shared -cillin ending of Methacillin and Penicillin). Basically, think of MRSA as hippies with power crystals that ward off bad vibes in the form of most standard antibiotics.

If your grandmother is not currently showing any symptoms of a Staph aureus infection, a positive test is not really a problem. It lets everyone know there's the potential for a problem, but not an active, storm the castle infection. A lot of healthcare professionals who are unfamiliar with aviculture are quick to say "Get rid of the birds" when they find anything like this test result. Also, they may not be aware that parakeets aren't nearly so dusty as 'toos and that even a large flock can easily be kept in good clean conditions.

If you are still worried, and don't yet have an air filter in the room with your birds, you could consider adding one as an upgrade. If you are worried that the birds might be carrying MRSA, you could have them screened at the vet (or work with a vet to learn how to do a throat swab of each bird at home). However, it is just as likely that your grandmother picked up MRSA at a Senior social, during a past hospitalization or from one of the cats. And even more than this, IF the birds actually carry Staph aureus and IF that strain happens to be Methacillin resistant, and IF your grandmother had enough close contact to pick up the bacteria from them, getting rid of your birds WON'T GET THE MRSA OUT OF HER NOSE. Oops. Did I yell a little there? Ahem. My bad.

My question in all of this is how do your cats manage with so many distracting finches and parakeets around the house? :)
Thank GOD. We do have an air filter in with our birds. "Getting rid of your birds WON'T GET THE MRSA OUT OF HER NOSE" actually made me laugh out loud. Yeah, I'm so relieved to read this! Thank you!!!!

We have a room exclusively for our parakeets + reptiles, so the cats aren't allowed in there. But trust me, the cats love to sit and watch the finches and cockatiels, lol.
 

Tanya

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On a serious note... after thinking about it some more, there is one concern that they could legitimately bring up. It is true that she was exposed to MRSA, and so it could be in your house. If you take the following precautions, you can very reasonably decrease the risk of a post-operative MRSA infection or any of a host of other little buggies that live in and around our homes.

1. Wash hands (You don't need to use antibacterial soap. Any soap will do. Shoot, we even did a lab were we took our thumbprints before washing, after washing with water only and after washing with soap and water. For most people, vigorously rubbing their hands for a full minute under warm running water took the bacteria down to almost nil. And regular old soap took out the rest. A fresh, clean towel or paper towels are a good choice for drying hands before helping with any kind of wound.)

2. Wash linens and sanitize seats (Cleaning blankets and sheets before she comes back is a good idea, especially if animals have have had access to the room where she is staying. Surgical wounds take awhile to heal and making sure that the place where she is recovering is clean will stop infections before they even start.)

3. Wash hands (Did you know that most infections in hospitals are because someone didn't wash their hands properly? And not just doctors, nurses or janitors. Visitors with unwashed hands can also spread all kinds of interesting things around a room.)

4. Keep the kitters out (Cats can be sweet purring balls of floofy happiness, but they can have dirty little paws. It might be a good idea to make her recovery room an animal-free zone for awhile, at least until the incision has healed enough to close and she doesn't need any more dressing changes. Ask your doctor about this and see what he or she thinks as far as timing is concerned.)

5. Wash hands (Sensing a pattern? ;) If it helps, you can imagine the tiny screams of bacteria as they swirl around and run down the drain.)

6. Spoil her a little (Not really an anti-infection thing, but surgery recovery kinda sucks. So why not make sure she a doctor-approved treat or activity to look forward to each day? And if she misses the kitties and other animals in her room perhaps she would enjoy some of the many delightful cat videos on YouTube. I was laid up for two days earlier this month with a doozy of the flu. Cat videos made it bearable. Also bear videos. Kola bears. We all have our thing.)

7. Wash hands (No need to be paranoid... More like healthy, optimistic precaution. Fun fact: Teach little kids how to wash their hands by putting a tiny bit of butter or petroleum jelly on their hands. When it's rubbed all over, sprinkle with pepper. Now have them wash the "germs" off. Most kids are surprised that a quick rinse won't do the trick. A little soap though and voila, clean hands!)

Ok, ok... I'll stop with the unasked-for advice. Hope her surgery goes smoothly and that she has a speedy recovery. :D
 

Hankmacaw

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I'll tell my funny/not funny MRSA story once more. My Vet told me about one client whose bird turned up with MRSA and the vet went over the washing and not touching himself before washing his hands. Like most men the client wasn't as careful as he should have been - or just thought the Dr. was being silly. Anyway, he went potty and shook his dingleberry and turned up with MRSA on his package - not a fun thing to happen. The Dr. and I laughed about that - the client didn't think it was funny.
 

Macawnutz

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I'll tell my funny/not funny MRSA story once more. My Vet told me about one client whose bird turned up with MRSA and the vet went over the washing and not touching himself before washing his hands. Like most men the client wasn't as careful as he should have been - or just thought the Dr. was being silly. Anyway, he went potty and shook his dingleberry and turned up with MRSA on his package - not a fun thing to happen. The Dr. and I laughed about that - the client didn't think it was funny.

:rofl: I've heard this story but the dingleberry reference will have me laughing all day.
 
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