Bird flu: is your parrot or budgie at risk?

The bird flu outbreak that has hit the Western Cape has been characterised as ‘severe’ by health authorities but infections so far are confined to chickens, domestic geese, ostriches and wild birds.

As of September 7, 2017 no domestic pet birds were reported to have been stricken by the disease. No human infections have been reported though it is still necessary to take good health and safety precautions when handling sick birds.

How bird flu is spread

  • The virus is shed in infected birds’ faeces and from the airways.
  • Infections will occur either with direct contact between birds, or from inhalation of infectious particles.
  • If you touch infectious faeces or droplets, or walk over it, your hands or feet can serve as a carrier of the virus to somewhere else.

How to prevent infection in pet birds

  1. Do not handle sick wild birds unless necessary.
  2. If you find a sick wild bird, contact the State Vet immediately for assistance.
  3. Do not let pet birds have contact with wild birds. If birds are caged outside, cover the tops with a tarpaulin to prevent direct contact and faecal contamination from wild birds.
  4. The cleaning solution F10 SC will kill the virus at normal dilutions. Cages and environments can be cleaned with F10 SC.  Use F10 hand wash and aerosol sprays in high risk areas. F10 SC is available from most vet clinics and EberVet Vetshops.
  5. Never handle sick birds and then handle your own without washing hands in F10 and changing clothes.
  6. Do not use cages that had previously contained sick birds for healthy birds without thorough cleaning.
  7. Do not use food bowls interchangeably.
  8. Keep poultry and other birds away from wild birds and their body fluids, by keeping them indoors, behind screens, fencing or nets.
  9. If you  keep chickens in your backyard, restrict access as far as possible. Vehicles coming in must be disinfected on entering and exiting. Do not allow other people who have had contact with poultry in the past 48 hours onto your property.

Check your birds regularly and report sick or dying poultry or geese to your State Vet immediately.

Poultry products from grocery stores are safe to eat.

For contact details of your local State Veterinarian, go to

More than 200 000 chickens have died or been culled in the Western Cape as a result of the latest outbreak of bird flu, according to Western Cape Minister of Economic Opportunities Alan Winde.  There are an estimated 29 million commercially farmed chickens in the province, and 185 000 ‘backyard’ birds.

The strain of bird flu has also been detected in  Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and the North West.