Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Psittacosis

 Bird on a perchClinical Features
In humans, fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a dry cough. Pneumonia is often evident on chest x-ray.
Etiologic Agent
Chlamydophila (or Chlamydia) psittaci, a gram-negative bacterium.
Incidence
Since 1996, fewer than 50 confirmed cases were reported in the United States each year. Many more cases may occur that are not correctly diagnosed or reported.
Sequelae
Endocarditis, hepatitis, and neurologic complications may occasionally occur. Severe pneumonia requiring intensive-care support may also occur. Fatal cases have been reported.
Transmission
Infection is acquired by inhaling dried secretions from infected birds. The incubation period is 5 to 19 days. Although all birds are susceptible, pet birds (parrots, parakeets, macaws, and cockatiels) and poultry (turkeys and ducks) are most frequently involved in transmission to humans. Personal protective equipment (PPE) should be used when handling birds or cleaning their cages.
Risk Groups
Bird owners, aviary and pet shop employees, poultry workers, and veterinarians. Outbreaks of psittacosis in poultry processing plants have been reported.
Treatment
Sensitive to macrolides or tetracyclines.
Surveillance
Psittacosis is a reportable condition in most states.
Trends
Annual incidence varies considerably because of periodic outbreaks. A decline in reported cases since 1988 may be the result of improved diagnostic tests that distinguish C.psittaci from more common C. pneumoniae infections.
Challenges
Diagnosis of psittacosis can be difficult. Antibiotic treatment may prevent an antibody response, thus limiting diagnosis by serologic methods. Infected birds are often asymptomatic. Tracebacks of infected birds to distributors and breeders often is not possible because of limited regulation of the pet bird industry.
Opportunities
Characterize new and rapid diagnostic tests for human and avian psittacosis, and determine value of screening flocks for avian psittacosis to prevent human infection.

Resources

Top