Can chickens give us diseases?


12 Years
Jan 4, 2008
vancouver island
My wife is trying to get to know the new chickens better, and vice versa. She trys to hold one every day for a few minutes, and give it a little pat. The chickens seem a little nervous but are not overly excited. I think handling them a bit is probably a good thing.

So, my Wife mentions this to a friend, (who never has raised birds) and the friend says she heard of a woman who used to hold chickens in her lap. This woman apparently got some infection, or parasite in her urethra, which the doctor said was passed from the chicken.

Now my Wife dosen't want to hold the chickens now, and is all worried. Should she be? Can humans get sick from handling healthy chickens?


Where Chickens Ride Horses
14 Years
Jul 9, 2007
always changing
I've been holding chickens for years and years, and so have my children, and now my grandson. Either that doctor didn't know what he was talking about, or it was some weird fluke your wife's friend picked something up from a chicken. tell her to keep holding the chickens! Much better when they are friendly chickens, a lot of fun too!


12 Years
Jan 4, 2008
vancouver island
I had never heard of such a thing myself.

I know about the avain diseases that people got in places like asia, but the chickens there seemed to be actually living with the people in their homes from what I read.

It makes you wonder if the DR. was looking for something to blame the infection on..


chick magnet
14 Years
Jul 12, 2007
Newport, MI
I have chickens living in our house for over 2 years now. We have no diseases what so ever. I think its a pile of donkey dung to me
Last edited:


Staff PhD
Premium Feather Member
12 Years
13 Years
Jan 25, 2007
Everett WA/Corvallis OR
Never heard of that either. You can get e coli and samonella from them.. but just wash your hands as you would with any other animal.

As for parcites... most are species specific. I wouldn't worry a bit.

And for the Asia and disease thing... yeah, most cases were in places where people live with their birds in less than clean conditions.


Cooped Up
12 Years
Aug 31, 2007
Caneyville, KY
I know its only a TV show, But did anyone see "House", there was one episode, where A young Hispanic guy with asthma contracted, "Histoplasmosis" from handling chickens during cock fights breathing in the dust and dander created by chickens. The poor guy ended up with gang green and lost a hand, he nearly died too.

Now this might have just been a TV show episode, but it is a real disease....and can be deadly.

Histoplasmosis is an infectious disease caused by a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. It usually affects the lungs, but can sometimes spread to other parts of the body.

What causes histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus called Histoplasma capsulatum. This fungus grows in warm, moist places like dirt. It grows especially well in the droppings of bats, chickens, pigeons, starlings, and blackbirds.
Who is at risk for histoplasmosis?

People who work with dirt, birds, or bats are the most at risk. This includes farmers with chicken coops, construction workers, gardeners who use chicken manure, and people who work with birds. The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum is only found in certain parts of Canada.

Signs and symptoms of histoplasmosis

Overall, about 10% of people infected with histoplasmosis show symptoms. Children, elderly people, and people with compromised immune systems (for example, from HIV infection) are more likely to show symptoms. Histoplasmosis symptoms can be mild or severe. The people that do have symptoms may feel like they have a flu, or notice:

* Fever
* Chills
* Headache
* Cough
* Fatigue

People who have histoplasmosis as well as an underlying lung disease like COPD (emphysema and chronic bronchitis) may notice the symptoms listed above as well as the following symptoms:

* Shortness of breath
* Chest pain
* Sweating

The symptoms of a histoplasmosis infection can appear 5 - 18 days after being exposed to the fungus.

How is histoplasmosis diagnosed?

Histoplasmosis is usually diagnosed by laboratory examination of a sputum (mucus) sample or a lung biopsy. If the sample shows Histoplasma capsulatum, you have histoplasmosis. Your doctor may also order chest x-rays and blood tests.

Treatment of histoplasmosis

Most people with histoplasmosis- especially people with no symptoms- do not need any medical treatment. People with symptoms are often treated with antifungal medicines, corticosteroids, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

What can I expect if I have histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is generally a mild infection, but it varies. In rare cases histoplasmosis can be serious, or even fatal. If you think you have histoplasmosis, see your doctor. Your doctor can tell you what to expect.

How can we prevent histoplasmosis?

The easiest way to prevent histoplasmosis is to stay away from the things that may harbour this fungus- soil, bird droppings, etc. If it?s not possible to avoid soil and bird droppings, people can wear protective equipment to lower their risk of infection. This handbook from the United States' National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health explains how to protect against histoplasmosis:
Histoplasmosis - Protecting Workers at Risk.


12 Years
Jan 30, 2007
"Either that doctor didn't know what he was talking about, or it was some weird fluke your wife's friend picked something up from a chicken."

...or an urban legend, as noted by another poster.

My guess as to what happened (just a guess - watch it become a UL too!):

Poultry woman gets uterine infection.

Busybody neighbor/relative says "and I'm telling you it's because she coddles those darned chickens in her lap!"

Add a few levels of passing along and voila.


ps: fyi, the animal that spreads the most diseases to a person is Homo sapien.

New posts New threads Active threads

Top Bottom