Diseases Diseases

what is psittacosis?

Defining Psittacosis

What is psittacosis? It is one of the zoonotic infectious diseases caused by a bacterium called Chlamydophila Psittaci. Psittacosis is also called parrot fever or chlamydiosis. The name of the disease comes from the word psittacidae, which is the name of a family in which parrots come from. The disease is contacted from parrots, parakeets, cockatoos, lories and other bird species and passes to humans and other animals. An outbreak of this infection was recorded in 1929-1930 in which the infection occurred in birds and humans that affected thousands of birds and hundreds of individuals. This is said to be a rare disease nowadays due to stricter import controls on birds, better veterinary and medical knowledge and increase in awareness amongst bird owners.

Infection with Psittacosis usually occurs when a person inhales organisms that have been aerosolized from dried feces of infected birds. Some of the most common ways this disease can be transmitted from the infected bird are contact with the sick birds, contaminated food and water supplies, droppings and respiratory discharge.

What are Its Symptoms?

The incubation period of psittacosis is 5-14 days and may be longer at times. Psittacosis’ symptoms are like that of a typhoid fever. The infected individual may have high fever and chills, dry cough, diarrhea, joint and muscle pains, and shortness of breath. Headache can also be very severe .

Doctors will hear abnormal sounds like noises of repeated small cracks in the lungs and decreased breath sounds when the physician listens to the infected individual’s chest with stethoscope.

How to Treatment Psittacosis?

The infection is treated with antibiotics and it is said that tetracycline or doxycycline administered intravenously is the first line of treatment for this infection. The treatment is given for 2-3 weeks to lower the risk of relapse. Normally patients given antibiotics normally respond to the treatment within 24-72 hours. A good second line of treatment is erythromycin which is often used in young children and pregnant women.


Bird owners, pet shop employees, and veterinarians are known to be at risk of psittacosis due to their exposure with the infected animal.

How to prevent contracting psittacosis must be known to the group of people who are highly susceptible in acquiring the disease.

Here are some tips on how to ensure that you’re free from psittacosis or parrot fever:

• When buying a bird look for an active, bright-eyed and vocal bird. Check and know all the signs of a healthy pet bird before going to the pet shops and buy yourself one.
• Buy birds from stores with good reputations
• Take your newly bought birds to an avian veterinarian to be examined and tested for psittacosis.
• Talk to your vet and discuss isolation program for new birds to be sure that your pet is psittacosis-free.
• Take your pet to a vet right away if it shows signs of the infection to avoid the spread of the disease.
• Wash your hands with antibacterial soap after having contact with birds.
• Clean you bird cages or the premises with a disinfectant to kill the bacteria causing organisms
• Exercise caution in handling bird droppings or feces.
• All persons involved with the care of infected birds should and must wear gloves and masks at all times.
• Keep your mouth away from a bird’s beak.

These are just some of the many precautionary ways to avoid psittacosis from attacking your home and infect your family. When signs of this disease are evident consult the experts the soonest possible time.

By Cryogene Clooney, published at 02/09/2012
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