Can kids get diseases from playing with feathers? - Mothering Forums

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Old 08-27-2005, 03:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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What do you think, am I nuts?

I grew up in Chicago, and would find pigeon feathers from time to time. My mom would always make me drop them, and wash my hands if possible. Now, whenever my dd finds a feather (usually duck or goose, I live in Oregon now, but sometimes maybe crow?) I get a bit uptight. I don't want to touch it, or have it anywhere near the baby. I Flip if she touches her face after handling it, and make her wash it with soap immediately if she brings it home. I'm thinking the thing is probably full of diseases.

But the thing is, I don't get weird about mosquitos. I figure, West Nile is really devastating to the bird population, but not that bad for people.

So, what should I do? Get over it and let my kid play with feathers?
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Old 08-27-2005, 05:23 AM
 
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I was also told that feathers carried diseases whle I was growing up....
i have no fact to back this up. I would assume, though that when you find feathers off an unheathly bird they might caary something. I would also assume that healthy birds dont lose a multitude of feathers.
all spectulation.
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Old 08-27-2005, 07:34 AM
 
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Huh. Well, birds do carry lots of viruses, but direct bird to human transmission is pretty rare, as far as I know.
West Nile jumps fairly easily, but I think you should go ahead and not worry about that virus while you're young and healthy, and get immunity through exposure, anyway.
I wouldn't worry about feathers. I think people get sick with viruses from each other 99.999% of the time. Not from animals, even birds.
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Old 08-27-2005, 08:13 AM
 
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West Nile virus is transmitted by blood, so you aren't at risk from handling feathers.
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Old 08-27-2005, 08:20 AM
 
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Forgive my ignorance, but what about Avian Flu (and feathers)?
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Old 08-27-2005, 09:07 AM
 
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the reason I was always given for not touching feathers is lice. Don't ask me! It doesn't seem too likely a feather would carry a virus or a louse (imo), so I do tend to let dd pick them up and play with them.

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Old 08-27-2005, 10:08 AM
 
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Bacteria are the primary problem w/feathers. Psittacosis is one such communicable bacterial infection; it manifests flu-like symptoms and can lead to a serious bout of pneumonia. Salmonella is also a common bacteria found on feathers.

Feathers can also have parasites on them - lice and mites usually, occasionally ticks. Tell kids if the feathers have obvious bugs on them leave them alone.

To dispatch any bacteria and buggies, feathers should be disinfected - carry a baggie on walks and put the feathers in it. When you get home, immerse feathers in a 1:9 bleach/water bath for a few minutes.
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Old 08-27-2005, 11:37 AM
 
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I would be more worried about West Nile. I have known 2 people who contracted it and were hospitalized and extremely ill.
I live in Illinois and we have a very high rate of West Nile, especially this year I believe. You get it when an infected mosquito bites you. They test a lot of dead birds they find laying around and find them positive for West Nile virus.
The two people I have known, one was in her 50's and off work for well over 6 weeks, the other a healthy man in his 40's hospitalized with encephalitis.
They do say that if you are immunocompromised you are more likely to suffer the effects of the virus; the woman was a breast cancer survivor, the man was just a 40 year old guy someone dh works with.
It is scary because it seems like no matter what bug repellant I have tried we are still getting bit and of course the mosquito sprayers around the neighborhood are enough to send us running in for cover.... :LOL

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Old 08-27-2005, 12:56 PM
 
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Wow, I guess I'm not a germaphobe but I never thought to worry about a few feathers. I just don't see it. I would have dc wash their hands afterward, though. But we wash hands after the park and always before eating anyway.

You cannot contract West Nile from playing with feathers.
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Old 08-27-2005, 01:26 PM
 
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Moved to Health & Healing

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Old 08-27-2005, 01:41 PM
 
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80% of the people with West Nile do not know they have it because they show no symptoms, pretty much like every other virus out there. West Nilehave both been around alot longer than the last few years. When the news reports about them started coming out they knew what it was, how to prevent it(deet, go figure after many years of us being told to never use it on kids), how it was transmitted and they've probably been working on a vaccine for it which was why the news of it was given to the media to begin with(scare everyone with it and then announce they have a vax so the masses will vax themselves).

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They do say that if you are immunocompromised you are more likely to suffer the effects of the virus; the woman was a breast cancer survivor, the man was just a 40 year old guy someone dh works with.
So the woman was immunocompromised and the guy may have had a health issues that your dh may or may not have known about(the guy himself may not have known about it).

To feathers, I grew up on a farm and we picked up feathers and played with them all the time. If they were dirty we didn't pick them up. They were never sanitized and none of us ever got sick from them. Anything and everything can cause some sort of an illness.
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Old 08-27-2005, 02:02 PM
 
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Lice or mites on a birds feathers are very species specific. They may crawl onto humans to visit, but they don't stay.
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Old 08-27-2005, 02:25 PM
 
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: My dad told me you could so I've always stuck with that. How funny that I've never even thought to question that.
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Old 08-27-2005, 03:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Lice or mites on a birds feathers are very species specific. They may crawl onto humans to visit, but they don't stay.
That's what I've heard too-- for example:

This one, named for "The Far Side" cartoonist Gary Larson

I have no idea whether they'd stick around on a human, but if each bird species has species-specific (is that redundant?) lice, I doubt bird lice would like to hang out on a human. Fleas and ticks, though are a worry. I'd say just be careful, as in everything.

f'arms
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Old 08-27-2005, 04:36 PM
 
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Old 08-28-2005, 01:50 AM
 
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Wildlife Rehabber here

-yes, mites and lice are type of animal specific (bird lice like all birds, for example.) They might crawl on you but they will not bite you or give you any diseases

-you cannot get WNV from touching feathers. It's transmitted from the mosquitos to all other animals.

-the only thing I would worry about is if there is feces on the feathers - this could contain bacteria that might cause infections. However, feces is generally found on feathers right around the cloaca (urogenital opening), which are not the long kinds you find on the ground and like to play with. Unless a bit gets on a tail feather... I've touched with and played with lots of feathers. I would simply wash my hands afterwards.

Early intervention specialist and parent consultant since 2002.
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Old 08-28-2005, 01:55 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all! My daughter is going to be very happy when I tell her I am over my feather issue. We'll just wash hands when we come in or before we snack, like we always do.
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