Diagnosis, Treatment, and Complications


Symptoms of psittacosis are similar to  many other respiratory illnesses. In addition, tests to detect the bacteria directly may not be readily available. For these reasons, healthcare professionals may not suspect it, making psittacosis difficult to diagnose. CDC rarely receives reports of psittacosis. Tell your healthcare professional if you get sick after buying or handling a pet bird or poultry.

There are a number of tests healthcare professionals can use to determine if someone has psittacosis. These tests include collecting sputum (phlegm) or swabs from the nose and/or throat to detect the bacteria.


People diagnosed with psittacosis usually take antibiotics to treat the infection. Most people improve quickly if they start antibiotics soon after they first get sick.

If your healthcare professional prescribes antibiotics for you, take it exactly as your healthcare professional tells you.


Most people who get treatment for psittacosis make a full recovery. However, some people have serious complications and need care or treatment in a hospital. Complications include:

  • Lung infection (pneumonia)
  • Inflammation of the heart valves (endocarditis)
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
  • Inflammation of the nerves or the brain, leading to neurologic problems

With appropriate antibiotic treatment, psittacosis rarely (less than 1 in 100 cases) results in death.

Page last reviewed: October 4, 2018