Can Birds Get Rabies? Can You Get Rabies From Birds?

Most birders are thirsty to know everything about birds. One area of curiosity and concern is birds’ diseases. A debatable illness is rabies. Can birds get rabies? If the question zings with you, stay with us to know all about it.  

What is rabies? 

Foremost, let us understand what exactly rabies is. The disease is caused by the virus lyssavirus. It is usually secreted in the saliva and transmitted via the saliva of an infected animal. It attacks the nervous system and, more often than not, proves fatal.  

Can birds get rabies? 

Birds do not get rabies. They are even immune to its symptoms.  

Why do birds not get rabies? 

Most disease-causing viruses are species-specific. The rabies virus is no exception. Rabies is known to occur only in mammals or warm-blooded animals. Classes like birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians do not get infected with rabies.  

In 1884, many phyla of cold-blooded invertebrates were injected with the rabies-causing virus. A surprising result came forth. Most phyla got infected with the virus even though they are surviving harsh habitats. Their body could not develop antibodies against the virus.  

But birds presented an altogether different result. The bird’s body could successfully produce antibodies against the virus and remained immune to the disease, even though they are warm-blooded animals. The difference could be because they are not related to mammals but to extinct dinosaurs.  

Compared to mammals, birds have a more efficient circulatory and breathing system than mammals. Their body temperature and metabolism are higher than mammals. All these cumulatively might be making their nervous system resistant to the virus.  

Most mammals go into a coma after getting infected with the rabies virus. It helps the virus to multiply at an exceptional speed to prove fatal for the infected. But birds do not go into a coma. Being awake makes them better equipped to produce antibodies and eliminate the virus from their body.  

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How can you tell if a bird has rabies? 

Because birds cannot get rabies, you need not worry. Moreover, it is difficult to tell if an animal is infected with rabies by merely looking at it. However, few infected animals are known to show strange behavior. They may act mad and hostile and try to bite any human or animal who comes in front of them.  

There are no rabid bird symptoms as birds are asymptomatic to the disease.  

Can wild birds get rabies? 

Even wild birds are immune to rabies. Hence, you have no fear of getting infected from them.  

Can birds give you rabies? 

Because birds are immune to rabies, they cannot transmit it to humans. Hence, even if you touch their dead body or their saliva falls on you, you will not get infected with rabies.  

However, birds can transmit several other diseases like Psittacosis, histoplasmosis or avian flu, cryptococcosis, etc. These diseases have been known to be transmitted to humans via birds.  

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Do we have to take rabies injections if bitten by a bird? 

No, you are not required to take a rabies injection if bitten by a bird.  

Birds usually do not bite, but when they do, it can be nasty. Their beaks come with the power of crushing seeds and hard grains. Hence, their bite can be nasty. They might amputate your finger or break a bone or two.  

If the bird bite has not cut the skin open, it is harmless. Cleaning the area with an antiseptic should be good enough. You can even consult a doctor to be on the safe side.  

The bird bite which cuts the skin open is a concern. You develop a risk of getting infected as the bird saliva carries many disease-causing bacteria like E. coli, Samonella, Staphylococcus, etc. Hence, you must rush immediately to a clinic or a hospital and get the wound cleaned by trained staff.

A blood test and antibiotic treatment as prescribed by the doctor would keep you safe and sound.

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Can a bird get rabies from eating a rabies-affected dead? 

We all know that birds are resistant to clinical rabies infections. But they can eat rabies-affected dead.

Studies have shown that when some wild predatory and scavenger birds like vultures feed on rabies-infected, their bodies produced antibodies and eject the virus through their feces. Their body is known to possess rabies antibody titers. However, they still remain immune to rabies.  

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Can parrots get rabies? 

Parrots also belong to the bird phylum, and hence they are also immune to rabies. They cannot get infected with rabies.  

Can crows have rabies? 

Crows are also immune to rabies. When they eat rabies-infected meat, they get oral rabies but soon produce antibody titers that help get rid of the entire rabies virus from their system.  

Can pigeons have rabies? 

Pigeons cannot get rabies as their body is immune to its infection.  

Can dogs get rabies from birds? 

Rabies is transmitted to any animal from the saliva of an infected animal. The saliva is transferred through licking, biting, and scratching by the infected animal on the victim. As birds cannot get infected with rabies, they cannot transmit the disease to the dog. Thus, dogs cannot get rabies from birds. 

Can cats get rabies from birds? 

The scenario with cats is precisely the same as that with dogs. Hence, with the same logic, cats also cannot get rabies from birds.  

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Wrapping up  

Whether you are keeping birds as pets or just love watching them in the wild, you have no fear of contracting rabies from them. Even if they bite you, you need not fear rabies and get into quarantine. However, you might get exposed to other diseases, and proper treatment and vaccination become a must.  

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