Chickens are important farm animals for the nutrition they can provide, and they are relatively harmless. However, they can transmit certain diseases that could cause severe health issues if left untreated.
These animal-to-human diseases, known as zoonotic diseases, require awareness and practices like wearing protective gear. To aid your awareness, read on to learn about four diseases that chickens can transmit to humans.
Salmonellosis is one of the most well-known diseases associated with chickens that the bacteria salmonella causes. Salmonella resides in the intestines of chickens. Humans can contract salmonellosis by consuming contaminated eggs or poultry meat or by coming into contact with chicken feces.
Symptoms of salmonellosis include fever, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and vomiting; most healthy individuals recover without medical intervention, but severe cases may require medical attention. To prevent salmonellosis, people must handle and cook poultry products properly, practice good personal hygiene, and ensure thorough cleaning and disinfection of areas where chickens live.
Campylobacteriosis is another bacterial infection humans can get from raw or undercooked poultry meat. Campylobacter bacteria can contaminate the meat during processing, and improper handling or cross-contamination can lead to infection.
Symptoms of campylobacteriosis include diarrhea, fever, abdominal pain, and nausea. Campylobacteriosis spreads quickly in poultry, so proper cooking to a safe internal temperature, separate storage of raw and cooked poultry, and thorough handwashing after handling raw poultry are necessary.
Avian influenza, commonly known as the bird flu, is a viral infection affecting different bird types, including chickens. Most strains of avian influenza do not transmit to humans, but certain subtypes, such as H5N1 and H7N9, can cause severe illness.
The main transmission means is direct contact with infected birds or their droppings. Avian influenza can lead to respiratory symptoms, high fever, cough, and, in severe cases, pneumonia and organ failure.
E. coli Infections
Escherichia coli is a bacterium commonly found in the intestines of chickens; most strains of E. coli are harmless, but certain strains can cause severe gastrointestinal infections in humans. This is the most common disease that chickens can transmit to humans through contact with chicken feces or consuming undercooked poultry products.
Symptoms of E. coli infections include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and sometimes fever. Hygienic practices, like proper handwashing, thoroughly cooking poultry products, and avoiding cross-contamination, can help prevent E. coli infections.