Thursday, July 9, 2009

"Reasons" Not to Quarantine

I have now posted on 4 types of Zoonotic Diseases (diseases that may be transmitted from animals to humans):

There are just a few more....

But I thought it might be good to take a bit of a breather from all this germy-wermy talk, and review the defenses available against all disease.

Whenever possible, proactive is a much better option than reactive!

  1. Quarantine new flock members for a minimum of 30 days.
  2. End quarantine with an avian vet check prior to meeting the flock.
  3. Proper husbandry and hygiene practices.
  4. Avoid overcrowding.
  5. Awareness of disease symptoms and transference.
  6. Attention to nutrition and health (both for ourselves and for our flock).

A variety of factors affect the rate of transmission of disease. For example:
  1. The virulence of the organism;
  2. The age of the potential host;
  3. The immune status of the potential host; and
  4. The amount or level of exposure.
We have no control the virulence of an organism.
We have no control over our age.
We have some control over the health of the immune system.

The factor we can control is the amount or level of exposure.

I frequent a number of bird forums, and have read more than a few quarantine stories. I wanted to share a few of the more common 'reasons' for failing to quarantine (or breaking quarantine early):

Excuse #1:
I have nowhere to quarantine.
Since most houses, and even apartments, have at least 3 rooms if not many more, this excuse doesn't have a wall to stand on. The worst places to quarantine are the bathroom or kitchen. So if those were my only options, I would choose a neighbor's house that had no birds, or keep the birds at a friend or family's home for a minimum of 30 days. Most of us have both a living room and a bedroom, so - problem resolved.

Excuse #2: My bird looks sad and lonely.
I am always interested in knowing what a sad and lonely bird actually looks like. The process of assigning human emotions to animals is known as anthropomorphizing.

If hearing other birds in the home defines 'sad and lonely', then our birds are all sad and lonely when they can hear outdoor birds but we do not allow to go outside and mingle.

Perceiving that a bird looks sad and lonely is sometimes used as a justification to fail to quarantine, or break quarantine. It may make the person feel better and happier to see the birds together. It does not put the health and interest of the flock as a top priority.

Excuse #3: I would know if my birds were sick. Before I ever heard of quarantine I brought new birds home, and I never had a problem.
Luck of the draw.... why risk the health of our birds and pocket book on past accidental successes? Why wear a seat belt if we've never had an accident? The same reason we quarantine - a wise precaution - hoping for the best; preparing for the worst.

Again, one of my favorite mottos: If we could tell a bird's health and disease-free status by looking at them, then millions of dollars could be saved quarantining birds and animals that come into this country, just by placing a couple of us at the border.

Excuse #4: They accidentally got together... they seem so happy... I just cannot separate them now!
In a proper quarantine environment, there is little to no ability for it to be inadvertently broken. If an accident happens, there is every reason to limit exposure, and return to quarantine to avoid gambling with the health of the flock.

When I got Bucky and Penske, they were already clipped (and it will be the last time). But if they were fully flighted, even escaping from their cage, there is still no route to my existing flock. That is, unless they have super-powers and can penetrate walls and doors.

Well, actually they do have super-powers... the power to woo me - those two little boys have my heart already!

If we visit a neighbor who two days later becomes ill with the flu, we would know we had most likely been exposed. The last thing we would want to do would be to return to their home for repeated exposures! This would increase our chances of becoming sick. So if quarantine is broken, it is imperative to return to it to reduce exposure.

Often, talk of all the disease possibilities can leave us feeling a bit squeamish and vulnerable. In reality, our birds are more likely to infect one another than they are to infect us (if they are harboring an illness) as only certain organisms can affect humans.

I am all about empowering birds, so the idea of empowering myself to control the factors of disease transmission that are within my ability to do so, gives me an important set of tools.

And, it supports my Glass Half Full philosophy!



wolfgirl1987 said...

Thanks for the great reminder of how important quarantine is, Robin!

Anonymous said...

It really is too bad it isn't mandatory to be aware of these things before adopting a bird, or really, any animal!

Julea said...

Excellent Robin!:D I have to say the excuses you mention are huge on my pet peeves list.;) No pun intended.

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