Psittacosis is reviewed with regard to its etiology, epidemiology, pathology, diagnostic criteria, methods of prevention, and research needs. Psittacosis is defined as an acute infectious disease caused by Chlamydia-psittaci. The disease is called psittacosis when it affects parrots and related birds and ornithosis when other avian species are affected. Persons at risk are those employed in quarantine facilities, pet shops, breeding aviaries, veterinary clinics, diagnostic laboratories, avian distributaries, poultry processing, and zoos. The disease is characterized clinically by fever, pneumonia, cough, weakness, fatigue, myalgia, and occasional myocarditis and encephalitis. Treatment with tetracycline is effective. The case fatality rate in the United States is approximately one percent. Diagnosis involves a history of avian exposure, evidence of contamination in the avian source, and cultural isolation of the organism. The author notes that adequate controls in the pet bird trade are not cost effective. The author recommends the development of improved techniques for the treatment of avian psittacosis to replace unreliable tetracycline feeding procedures.
Occupational Respiratory Diseases. J. A. Merchant, Editor; Division of Respiratory Disease Studies, Appalachian Laboratory for Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 86-102