can birds get salmonella poisoning


Contamination with salmonellosis can occur during food handling, processing, or pest exposure. The most commonly contaminated foods are milk, eggs, beef, and poultry, but produce is also susceptible. So why are we discussing salmonella in relation to birds?

Birds are frequently seen flying into big box stores and grocery stores, as well as numerous other stores that sell packaged food and fresh produce. The most frequent bird seen in these stores is the English House Sparrow, which prefers to live close to humans and feeds on food scraps and spills.

It has been proven that birds, and the English House Sparrow, in particular, can contain many diseases that may be transmitted to people. Once a bird has either become trapped inside a facility or has decided to live there, salmonella, among many other diseases, becomes a very real risk.sparrows on a table eating food

Salmonella is particularly challenging because contaminated food typically smells and looks normal, making contamination difficult to detect without specialized equipment.

After consuming enough contaminated food, symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, and cramping in the abdomen may appear. After eating contaminated food, these symptoms appear 12–72 hours later and typically last 4–7 days. Symptoms may be severe enough to require hospitalization.

Until the infection has progressed from the intestine to the bloodstream, treating salmonella typically entails controlling the symptoms rather than combating the bacteria.


Birds transmit salmonella in two distinct ways. The first way is through actually eating the bird. People do not typically contract this form of transmission as other bird predators do.

The second way is through the birds’ feces. English House Sparrows will deposit their waste in the areas where they feed and sleep. They frequently stand in old manure and take it with them to wherever they land next. Their excrement not only carries the potential to transmit salmonella but also attracts other house sparrows to the area due to pheromones.

Anywhere the birds land or walk, there may be contaminated surfaces nearby.

Bacteria that enter the body through food can damage the digestive tract and result in diarrhea. Sepsis, or bacterial blood spread, can occur as an infection worsens. Bacteria can enter the joints and distal parts of the limbs (polyarthritis and osteomyelitis), the tips of the ears and tails, the brain and brain membranes (meningitis or inflammation of the meninges).


What are the symptoms of Salmonella poisoning in birds?

In birds, clinical signs include ruffled feathers, diarrhea, and lethargy. Affected songbirds have plaques in the mouth and crop and may have general signs of illness. Bird feeder associated outbreaks may cause high mortality across large geographic areas. Infected animals intermittently shed the organism in the feces.

Do birds naturally carry Salmonella?

Birds transmit salmonella in two distinct ways. The first way is through actually eating the bird. This form of transmission is not as common for people as it is for other predators of birds. The second way is through the birds’ feces.

How do you treat avian Salmonella?

Avian salmonellosis should not be confused with Avian conjunctivitis. There is no known treatment for sick birds, and once the clinical signs are noticeable the infection is likely to be fatal.