what happens if a bird bites you

A recurring question appears at least once a week on my Facebook wall: What should I do when my parrot bites me?

A LOT of advice comes in the comments section of the person who asked the question. The one we find most often is: you must ignore the behavior. There are also: you must punish your parrot, put it back in its cage, give it a tap on the beak, say a big “NO”, etc. I have even read: you have a parrot, it’s normal that he’s biting! The common point to all those comments, all advice given, is to intervene, one way or another, AFTER the bite.

In my opinion, the question “What should I do when my parrot bites me?” should be replaced by “Why did my parrot bite me?” “and more especially” how to avoid next bites?”. To answer these last two questions, let’s review the frequently observed comments:

I. C. C. King

Articles by the Plastic Surgery Department at Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead, RH19 3DZ, UK

Find articles by James Cook University Hospital’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW, UK.

Find articles by James Cook University Hospital’s Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at Marton Road, Middlesbrough, TS4 3BW, UK.

Common injuries that are frequently received from humans, dogs, and cats are bites and scratches. However, damage caused by exotic pets is a significant and rapidly developing category of injuries. While the guidelines for a timely and comprehensive medical evaluation, the use of antibiotics, and possible surgical washout and debridement still hold true, exotic pet wounds need special attention. For the pathogens spread by parrot bites, standard antibiotic prophylaxis using amoxicillin/clavulanic acid, or co-amoxiclav, is insufficient. We provide a case study of an open finger fracture brought on by a parrot bite to highlight the significance of giving microbiological pathogens enough thought. We hope that this will be a useful tool for medical professionals in managing these kinds of injuries.

Level of Evidence: V

Common injuries that are frequently received from humans, dogs, and cats are bites and scratches. However, damage caused by exotic pets is a significant and rapidly developing category of injuries [3, 4]. While the guidelines for a timely and comprehensive medical evaluation, the use of antibiotics, and possible surgical washout and debridement still hold true, exotic pet wounds need special attention. Understanding the underlying diversity of microbiological pathogens that cause these injuries is crucial for determining the best course of action for treatment. We report a case of a parrot bite resulting in an open phalangeal fracture. After taking into account the possibility of zoonoses like psittacosis, pasteurellosis, and nontuberculous mycobacteriosis, which can be spread through parrot saliva, this unusual injury was treated with a customized approach. Doxycycline was added to the standard amoxicillin/clavulanic acid (co-amoxiclav) treatment for animal bites in order to protect against these uncommon pathogens.

A 17-year-old man arrived with a left index finger injury from a parrot bite. The day before, the patient was petting a friend’s parrot when it bit her finger, clamping onto it for a brief period of time before releasing its hold. The patient was otherwise healthy and systemically well. A jagged 6-cm laceration to the left index finger’s ulnar border was discovered during examination (Fig ). Although the digit’s neurovascular structure was unharmed, flexion was uncomfortable, and middle phalangeal tenderness was felt. The flexor and extensor tendons were clinically unharmed, and tenosynovitis was not present. An undisplaced fracture of the middle phalanx of the index finger was discovered by radiography (Fig. ). The patient had the laceration repaired and a formal wound washout. The fracture was managed conservatively with a splint. Because the results of the wound swabs were inconclusive, the patient was released from the hospital after receiving a week’s worth of oral doxycycline and amoxicillin/clavulanic acid from microbiology. Review after a week revealed no infection symptoms on the wound, and follow-up radiographs revealed no movement of the fracture.

Exotic pet injuries pose a unique challenge to healthcare systems. Injuries to exotic pets resulted in 2,121 hospital days, 709 admissions, and 760 consultations for the National Health Service in England alone between 2004 and 2010 [4]. With their vibrant plumes and endearing voices, parrots make excellent pets. However, a variety of zoonoses can be carried by these birds and transferred to people. These illnesses may manifest with flu-like or respiratory symptoms (i. e. psittacosis), gastrointestinal symptoms (i. e. salmonellosis) or cutaneous symptoms (i. e. pasteurellosis), though not all are brought on by skin-piercing insect bites. If animals have been handled or inadequate hand hygiene is practiced, unrelated skin trauma could potentially serve as a pathway for nonbite-transmitted zoonoses. An organism’s capacity to cause disease is dependent on a number of variables, such as the organism’s pathogenicity, degree of exposure, and capacity to mount an immune response in the host.

If treatment is not received, parrot wound detritus, including saliva, can spread through broken skin and result in serious illness. Psittacosis, also referred to as chlamydiosis, parrot fever, and ornithosis, is primarily caused by a parasite called chlamydophilia pustaci, which is found in all birds and has an incidence of 2040–20% [2]. Found in parrots’ digestive and respiratory systems, bites are the most common way for transmission to occur. People typically have systemic malaise and an atypical pneumonia; long-term complications include meningoencephalitis and myocarditis. When tetracyclines are contraindicated, erythromycin or chloramphenicol are appropriate substitutes. Tetracyclines are the cornerstone of treatment for both humans and parrots. Pasteurella multocida is a pathogen that causes pasteurellosis and is primarily spread by bites or respiratory droplets. It was isolated from the nasopharynx of parrots. If left untreated, systemic malaise may develop; quinolones, doxycycline, amoxicillin, and/or clavulanic acid are among the antibiotics that can be used for treatment. Mycobacterium avium causes nontuberculous mycobacteriosis, which is spread by talons, beaks, and claws [1]. The majority of infections have no symptoms, but rifambutin, ethambutol, and macrolides are available for treatment. In soil tainted with infectious excrement, other zoonoses such as Cryptococcus, erysipeloid, and Newcastle disease can be discovered. These can result in both localized and systemic infections when there is broken skin. First-line treatment for Cryptococcus is fluconazole; penicillin or erythromycin is used for erysipeloid patients.

In order to treat open hand fractures containing potentially dangerous bacterial contamination, careful lavage, wound debridement, and the recommended prophylactic antibiotic therapy are necessary. Certain zoonoses, whether treated empirically or after a proper diagnosis, respond well to traditional treatments, but others do not and may continue to exist [3]. The majority of animal bites are usually treated with broad-spectrum antibiotics, such as amoxicillin/clavulanic acid or, in cases where a patient is allergic to penicillins, an alternative. From a first principles perspective, however, the bacteria spread by parrot bites might not be addressed by standard treatment alone; routine prescription of amoxicillin/clavulanic acid for animal bites, although straightforward, might not sufficiently cover the prophylactic cover against parrot bites that one would anticipate from such a commonly used antibiotic. Therefore, we advise treating patients who present with parrot bites with oral doxycycline as a preventative measure against infections caused by pasteurellosis and psittacosis and to cover skin contamination. Deeper cuts with fractures, particularly in the hands, call for immediate surgical debridement, washout, and intravenous antibiotics that include clavulanic acid and amoxicillin (Fig. ) and consultation with microbiologists. Injuries that do not respond well to antibiotic prophylaxis need to be promptly reevaluated. Nontuberculous mycobacteriosis treatment should only begin after organism sensitivities have been verified and positive swab cultures have been obtained.

Clinicians must have a better understanding of exotic pet injuries and the potential medical consequences of these wounds in order to properly evaluate, treat, and counsel patients. Treatment procedures must change as exotic animals become more and more popular as pets in order to address the risk of uncommon and potentially fatal infections.

Ian CC King says he has no competing interests.

Hannah Freeman declares that she has no conflict of interest.

James ET Wokes says he has no competing interests.

Statement of Human and Animal Rights

There are no studies using human or animal subjects in this article.

1. You must ignore the bite.

I understand why this advice is given. Parrots occasionally test objects with their beaks (texture or structure of a jewel, for example) If one were to observe his bird during this behavior, one might receive positive reinforcement. When it comes to actual bites, though, I would really like to know how it might be possible to ignore the parrot’s behavior. I used my beak, and I got attention. What should I do the next time I want attention? Use my beak!

I work with parrots almost every day, have two parrots of my own, used to work in a zoo with lots of them, and occasionally help an avian veterinarian with parrot operations. To claim that I have never been bitten by a parrot would be a lie!

However, I believe the most recent one was around three years ago (along with the small parakeet that bit my finger a few months prior while “wrapping” at Dr. Manderscheid’s – https://www. facebook. com/AnimalAcademie/photos/a. 1201764163214083. 1073741839. 1223734087683750/1923773194116514/?type=3

My colleague came behind me at the same time. Miti bit my wrist, leaving a lump behind for a few weeks. Please pardon me, ladies and gentlemen heroes, but “stay stoic while she rips my arm” is not appropriate when a chloropterus macaw bites you. Naturally, I reacted, letting out a painful “Ahhhhahahahah” and then opening her beak to remove it. I left, I was sad and angry. But most definitely not against Miti! Instead of questioning whether I made the right decision when I screamed or withdrew my arm (I knew I couldn’t leave my wrist in there; she could have broken it!), I asked myself what I had done wrong for Miti to act in this way.

My thought was to find out what MY mistake was. I visited my colleague once I had calmed down (and bandaged my arm). After a lengthy discussion and period of introspection, we decided on the management that would be implemented (for example, when I worked with Miti, he would avoid making abrupt movements in the room). One more thing: Tia, my red-lored Amazon, is my chick, my darling, my lover, and my daughter. Guess how many times Miti bit me after that? Zero! We have eight years of happy, contented years together.

My living room leads directly to my birds’ outdoor aviary. When the weather permits, I open my birds’ indoor aviaries each day, ask them to climb on my hand, and carry them out the living room window to the outdoor aviary. Like every other day, I unlocked the two cages that day, let my girls out, and then I asked Luna, my blue She immediately got on it, and I placed her in the open-air aviary. Tia didn’t leave her cage as usual, so I mentioned that when I returned to get her.

So I reached my hand inside her cage and…. gained a lovely bite on the finger (you know, at the point where the pulpit is extremely soft, at the level of the first phalanx!) When it came to Miti, I withdrew my hand, shut Tia’s cage, ran water over my finger, and considered my error. To be perfectly honest, as the blood ran down the sink, I distinctly recalled that Tia had forewarned me before “asking me more specifically” to leave. I had a wonderful relationship with her, so I guess that’s why I didn’t listen to her; I forgot that she had a voice and the ability to say “no.”

I returned to the cage, opened it, took a seat on the couch, and waited (for at least fifteen seconds) after tending to my finger (and my pride!). When the small green chick emerged, I asked her to climb up on my hand, and then I released her into the open aviary. Therefore, I am the one at fault! Was it too early for Tia? Did I interrupt her while she was counting the toys in her cage? Did she not want to go outside right away? Regardless of the reason, Tia politely asked me to wait by refusing to leave her cage, perching away from me, opening the feathers on her neck, and retracting her pupils. She found a different way to be heard because I refused to “listen” to her. More effective.


What to do if a bird bites you?

If it’s not too deep, you can use an antibiotic ointment and a band aid for a couple days. It may seem counter intuitive, but the one thing you shouldn’t do is attempt to pull away as the bird bites.

Can you get sick from a bird bite?

Less commonly, birds infect people through bites and beak-to-mouth contact. In general, people do not spread the bacteria that cause psittacosis to other people. However, this may be possible in rare cases. There is no evidence that the bacteria spread by preparing or eating poultry.

Is it OK if a bird bites you?

Infection from bird bites is a big concern. Birds carry many of the common bacteria we are exposed to in our environment such as E. coli, Samonella, and Staphylococcus. But they also can transmit to humans (through bites and scratches) Lactobacillus, Pasturella multocida, and Proteus.

Can you get tetanus from a bird bite?

Although most people are aware that stepping on a rusty nail or a puncture wound can cause a tetanus infection, most people do not know that tetanus bacteria can also enter the body even through a tiny pinprick, a scratch from an animal, splinters, bug bites and even burns that break the skin.