Request CDC Assistance

The public should direct inquiries about psittacosis to CDC-INFO at 1-800-CDC-INFO, (800-232-4636), TTY: (888) 232-6348, or email CDC-INFO. For questions about specific outbreak investigations, please contact the relevant state or local health department.

CDC can assist health department personnel with investigating potential cases or outbreaks of psittacosis. For help with specimen submission or questions, please email RDB@cdc.gov .

Specimen submission for diagnostic testing

Public health department laboratory staff can forward approved specimens to CDC for specialized testing. CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch requires a consultation and pre-approval prior to submission of clinical specimens for Chlamydia psittaci testing. Contact the Respiratory Diseases Branch by emailing RDB@cdc.gov. When requested testing is part of an outbreak investigation, CDC can also provide epidemiologic consultation.

CDC uses multiplex real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) as the primary laboratory procedure for identifying C. psittaci. CDC does not use serological testing as a routine diagnostic method. Culture may be performed in certain cases, such as when other laboratory tests suggest C. psittaci is present in a specimen or when a cluster or outbreak with shared exposure is suspected.

Advantages to using real-time PCR include:

  • High sensitivity
  • High specificity
  • Results are usually available in 1–2 days
  • Approved for testing of human clinical samples in select laboratories

Ideally, specimens submitted for PCR should be sputum or bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Other specimen types will be considered upon consultation. Visit CDC’s Test Directory for important information on submitting specimens.

Additional technical support is available upon request by emailing RDB@cdc.gov. CDC can help public health laboratories implement molecular testing (real-time PCR) for C. psittaci by providing materials, protocols, and training.

Page last reviewed: March 17, 2022