Friday, September 23, 2011

Should People Sleep in the Same Room with Their Birds?


Which room where people keep their pet birds is a pretty important decision. Obviously, the kitchen is a bad choice because, although it is an area with a lot of activity, birds are very sensitive to fumes, smoke and other airborne toxins present there. Their small size coupled with a very efficient respiratory tract makes that environment dangerous for them. Another room that would be a bad choice would be in the bedroom.

I know people like to have their birds sleep in the same room with them as it is comforting for both, however, there is a potential problem. I hate to be a spoilsport but a strong consideration is the risk of “Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis,” also known as “EAA” (extrinsic allergic alveolitis) or more popularly as “Bird Keeper’s Lung.”

I have spoken to the bird clubs, aviculture groups and veterinary meetings about this in the past in reference to zoonotic diseases (diseases you can get from animals). This condition develops in people who have a sensitivity to the protein in aerosolized bird fecal matter. There are various forms including acute (sudden onset), subacute (more low grade symptoms) and chronic, which is the type to fear. The chronic form develops slowly over time and can be caused by an exposure to even just one bird if you are hypersensitive. The danger is that due to the exposure to the fecal protein material the lung tissue in allergic individuals begins to undergo fibrosis (scarring) which is irreversible. Over time, lung capacity decreases and people suffering from this condition show respiratory problems including coughing, exercise intolerance, lethargy, chest pains and becoming easily winded. (One of our clients who had the condition said he felt like he was having a heart attack). Testing can be conducted to verify the diagnosis and treatment can be undertaken to prevent the disease from progressing, but the scarring is permanent and will never go away. Scary, huh?

Right now some of you are saying…..”I don’t have any allergies so I should be OK.” But this sneaks up on you. The people who are at risk are people who have birds in multiple rooms in their homes and they do not really get away from the birds. Why should the bedroom be an issue? Just think about it. How many hours do you spend in there and when you are sleeping you are sucking stuff into your lungs. If a bird is in there you are inhaling fecal protein (as gross as that seems).

A real life example….We had a client who was at the hospital for an appointment with her parakeet and her daughter was accompanying her. I noticed she was coughing a great deal. I asked her what was wrong and she said she had been having respiratory problems and no one knew why. My advantage as a veterinarian is that I do know about zoonoses so I questioned her about where she kept the bird…..IN HER BEDROOM. The room where she studied, slept and spent a great deal of time. I recommended that she move the bird out of the room and have her doctor check for EAA. It was verified and she improved. So this is not a theoretical problem, it is real.

I hope I have your attention now. All of you with birds should follow these guidelines. 1) Have an area where you can get away from your birds or keep them in one room. DO NOT keep them in a bedroom with you sleeping with you. 2) Purchase a quality air cleaner. 3) Clean the cage papers/cage frequently to prevent the drying out of the feces and great risk of aerosolizing the material. 4) If you have allergies wear a mask when cleaning cages or have someone else do it for you. This disease can sneak up on you, I know several people who have had it and some of you probably are slowly developing it now unless you take precautions.

The best spot for the cage is a family room where there is activity to keep the bird stimulated but away from any potential airborne toxins or fumes. An area with adequate space and good ventilation would be ideal.

53 comments:

  1. We have our 3 cockatiels in a spare bedroom, we would like to move them into another spare room so that occasionally our 3 month old twin grandsons can sleep over. When would the air be safe in the spare bedroom?

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    Replies
    1. is heppi air purifiers ok to use inthe same room as a conure an a budgie both in seperate cages


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  2. Once the birds are out and you do a thorough cleaning it would be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  3. When I was 14, in 2011, I slept with a few parakeets in my room. I had them for a year or two then had three conures too. A year later, I rehomed most of them (I spent many hours training them but they were happier in a parrot aviary than with me at home,) and I only kept/have one conure in my room. It's been this way for about 1.5-2 years.


    Am I safe or should I go to the doctor? I'm hoping that because I'm young, I still have a chance to stop the disease, is it possible? If I had this info before, I would not have kept them in my room. :(

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  4. If you have no breathing issues you should be OK. If there has been excessive coughing, shortness of breath it might be a good idea to be checked.

    By removing the bird out of the bedroom you should be fine.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thank you so much for answering! I will move her to a different room immediately.

    I apologize that this is a late reply. I forgot to bookmark this, so when I went back to check if you had replied, I couldn't find the website anymore! And I'm on my brother's laptop and he clears his history daily so I couldn't find the website through the history. :( I got a break and finally got back here, though, thank goodness.

    Thanks again and this is a cool blog! :)

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  6. I have had my cockatiel since she was a baby in 2009, and she's been kept in my bedroom ever since. So for 6 years now. The problem is, I don't have anywhere else to put her. I have heard that the kitchen isn't a safe place. My mum's had 2 budgies in past that have died, and they were placed in the kitchen. I can't place my cockatiel Summer in the 2nd bedroom, due to being a bedroom of course. The 3rd room is a studio room which has no room for her. And the 4th bedroom is a games/movie room which absolutely has no room. I have a cat, and I'm worried about having her cage anywhere near the cat. Especially because I like to have Summer come out, and I need to have her in a room with a door. The only room my cat isn't allowed in is the games/movie room & bedrooms. I don't know what to do. The loungeroom is open, and has no doors. All this time I've been trying to protect my cockatiel, and it looks like I have been damaging both my husband & myself in the process. My husband has asthma, and I have hayfever. Lately, we've both been having really bad coughs, cold & fly symptoms. This year has been the worst yet! We don't have an air purifier. But are thinking of getting one. Is it possible to get one, and still keep her in the room with us? I can't bare to let her go. We're renting at the moment. And are hoping to buy in 2 year's time, and then we can place her in a better room.

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  7. Is it ok to keep a bird in bedroom if you have an air filter?

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  8. It can help....but it is preferable to keep them in another room.

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  9. So would the living room be best?

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  10. I have 4 cockatiels now I have to be in the dining room and living room open room they have a cake that they can go in but they are free all day can this cause the bad health thank you

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  12. I have around 13 Autralian birds in my living room,is safe for my family or can we get sick?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I have around 13 Autralian birds in my living room,is safe for my family or can we get sick?

    ReplyDelete
  14. Where did you get 13 Australian birds? And, no it is not safe for your family you imbecile
    Not Anonymous but Michaela

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hello Peter Sakas,
    This is a very nice post. This post is very informative. Thank you for sharing this helpful blog. It is preferable to keep the birds in another room from our bedroom.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  17. I just got my canary yesterday, this is the second night ive kept him in my room to sleep in. Im afraid to put him in the living room because not only is it hot but it has mosquitoes aonly don't want him to overheat or be bitten what should I do.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I just got my canary yesterday, this is the second night ive kept him in my room to sleep in. Im afraid to put him in the living room because not only is it hot but it has mosquitoes aonly don't want him to overheat or be bitten what should I do.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I just got my canary yesterday, this is the second night ive kept him in my room to sleep in. Km afraid to put him in the living room because not only is it hot but it has mosquitoes and I not Wat him to overheat or be bitten what should I do.

    ReplyDelete
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  21. Very Different post.I saw lots of people sleep with their pets like dog , cat. Is t effect on health?

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