Apergillosis Do Not Eat Transmissable To Humans
Causative Agent
  • A disease of the respiratory tract, primarily occurring in birds. It is caused by a fungus, Aspergillus, usually A. fumigatus.
  • Aspergillus fungi live on dead or decaying matter that are closely related to human activities such as decaying vegetation and feed grains.
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Aspergillosis - Labored Breathing Aspergillosis Plaques
Labored breathing and ‘gaping’ are often observed in birds suffering from aspergillosis. Lung of bird with chronic aspergillosis showing cheese-like fungal plaques (at arrows).
  • Worldwide.
  • Outbreaks of aspergillosis in waterfowl occur usually in the fall and early winter.
  • Individual cases of aspergillosis can occur throughout the year, particularly among birds undergoing stress such as malnutrition or suffering from another disease.
Hosts, Transmission and Life Cycle
  • Aspergillosis is most often encountered in birds; rarely in mammals. All birds are susceptible to aspergillosis. It is most commonly observed in colonial waterbirds (gulls), waterfowl, ravens and crows (corvids), and captive birds of prey.
  • In young birds, particularly in species of northern waterfowl (eiders, mergansers), infection may spread (become generalized) and affect the brain.
Transmission and Life Cycle:
  • Aspergillus spores are ubiquitous in the environment and are frequently inhaled by vertebrates.
  • Spores travel through the upper respiratory tract to the lungs where they may colonize and produce a fungal pneumonia. The lungs become obliterated with debris and fungal filaments.
  • Air sacs, parts of avian respiratory systems located primarily in the abdomen and long bones of wings, may also become infected. Dispersal of fungi to organs adjacent to air sacs may also occur.
  • Aspergillosis is not usually considered contagious.
Signs and Symptoms
  • Typically, birds infected with Aspergillus will be emaciated, exhibiting severe difficulty in breathing. Infected birds also appear unthrifty and weak, their wings may droop, and they may fail in attempts to escape if pursued.
  • Infection that has reached the brain can result in loss of muscular coordination and twisting of the head and neck so they are held in unnatural positions.
  • Variably sized lesions in the lungs and air sacs are often visible in chronic infections of aspergillosis, occurring as flattened, yellow plaques with a cheese-like appearance and consistency.
  • Similarly, large masses of fungal growth resembling bread mold may line air sacs.
Meat Edible?
  • Birds with aspergillosis should not be considered edible because they are often in poor body condition. While it is not possible for humans to contract aspergillosis from eating the meat of an infected bird, it is possible for humans to contract this disease from inhaling the spores that are present in the air sacs and lungs. Because of this, infected birds should be discarded and not consumed.
Human Health Concerns and Risk Reduction
Samples for Diagnosis
  • The whole carcass should be submitted for necropsy. The presence of fungal infection can be confirmed microscopically in the laboratory.
Similar Diseases
Further Reading
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