Psittacosis is a lung infection caused by bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci. These bacteria are found mainly in birds, such as parrots, parakeets, pigeons, chickens, ducks, and lovebirds.
Psittacosis bacteria can infect a number of mammal species. Birds are the major reservoir for the organism and are an important source for human disease. Humans usually get the disease by inhaling the bacteria from dried bird droppings or infected secretions. Symptoms begin 1 to 2 weeks after infection.
The typical symptoms of psittacosis include: fever and chillsmuscle achesheadachefatiguecoughshortness of breath
Psittacosis is caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci. Someone who lives or works around birds is at risk for getting the disease.
Bird breeders and owners can protect themselves by avoiding the dust from the feathers and the cages of sick birds. If infected birds are discovered, they need to be treated. Their cages must be disinfected before further use. A person who has contact with sick birds should be watched for symptoms of psittacosis.
The diagnosis of psittacosis is usually made when blood tests show antibodies to the organism.
In rare cases, a person with psittacosis can develop infections of the heart, liver, brain, or spinal cord.
It is unusual for humans to pass the psittacosis infection to each other.
Psittacosis is treated with antibiotics, including: tetracycline (i.e., Sumycin)doxycycline (i.e., Adoxa, Doryx, Oracea, Periostat, Vibramycin)erythromycin (i.e., EES) with or without rifampin (i.e., Rifadin, Rimactane)azithromycin (i.e., Zithromax, Zmax) clarithromycin (i.e., Biaxin)
Antibiotics may cause allergic reactions or stomach upset.
A person generally recovers completely from psittacosis with antibiotics. If infections develop in the heart, liver, brain, or spinal cord, they may require longer treatment.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.
Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, Tierney, 2000
The Merck Manual of Medical Information, 1997