Psittacosis

Description
  • Psittacosis, also known as parrot disease, is caused by bacteria called Chlamydophila psittaci. 
Location
  • Psittacosis is rare in the United States with as few as 100–200 cases a year.
Cause
  • The bacterium that causes psittacosis is found in bird droppings and consequently, these birds infect humans.
  • Common birds that carry psittacosis are parrots, hens, ducks, pigeons, sparrows, and gulls.
     
Symptoms
  • If a bird is infected with psittacosis, they will show certain signs such as:
    • Inflammation of the eyes
    • Watery droppings
    • Difficulty breathing
       
  • In humans, the symptoms are:
    • Bloody coughing
    • Headaches
    • Fever
    • Muscle pain
    • Fatigue
    • Shortness of breath
  • These symptoms appear anywhere between 1 to 2 weeks from infection. Symptoms increase in severity over the course of these 2 weeks.
     
Treatment
  • Doses of antibiotics can be given to birds with psittacosis.
  • These are usually injected or put in their food and water.
  • Treatment for humans involves proper diagnosis through tests and cultures from blood and respiratory secretions.
  • These can include blood cultures, x-rays, CT scans, and spectrum cultures.
  • After diagnosis, antibiotics can help cure the infection.
  • Early diagnosis is very important in humans. Seek medical attention at the first sign of symptoms because they get worse over time.
     
Prevention
  • Humans should avoid contact with birds that may carry the bacteria.
  • Imported parrots are common carriers of the bacteria.
  • If you have a weak immune system, take extra precaution.
     
Handling
Animals    
  • Those that are in contact with these types of birds have a higher risk of getting infected.
  • These include pet owners, pet store workers, zoo workers and handlers.
  • If you have pet birds or are a veterinarian, know the signs of psittacosis.
     
Other Facts
  • Prolonged infection can result in serious health problems.
  • Heart valve infection, inflammation of the liver, and decreased lung function are common problems.