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- An acute febrile disease characterized by pneumonitis and other systemic symptoms
- The name is derived from the Greek for parrot, psittakos; thus, psittacosis is often referred to as “parrot disease.”
- Also known as ornithosis
- Birds are the major reservoir of the psittacosis pathogen.
- Nearly all domestic and wild birds may spread this infection.
- Psittacine birds (parakeets, parrots, and macaws) are a major source of disease in the United States, but pigeons and turkeys are also common culprits.
- Infecting agent is present in bird nasal secretions, urine, feces, feathers, viscera, and carcasses.
- Inhalation of aerosols of feces, urine, and secretions of infected birds is the most common route of infection.
- Handling of plumage, bird bites, and mouth-to-beak contact are known to spread infection.
- Birds may be healthy or sick.
- Most reported cases (70%) are the result of exposure to pet caged birds (especially parrots, parakeets).
- Most common mammalian source of infection is sheep.
- Occupational hazard of workers in poultry plants, pet shops, zoos, farms
- Rarely transmitted person to person
- Only 100–200 total cases reported in United States each year
- Very rare disease in young children
Close human contact with birds and, in some cases, sheep
- Epidemiologic investigation is indicated in all suspected cases.
- Birds suspected to be infected should be killed, transported, and analyzed by qualified experts.
- Potentially contaminated living areas where bird was kept should be disinfected and aired.
- Pathogen is susceptible to most household disinfectants (rubbing alcohol, Lysol, bleach).
- Inhalation of aerosolized organisms into the respiratory tract
- Incubation period 5–14 days; may be longer
- Spreads via bloodstream to lungs, liver, and spleen
- Lymphocytic inflammatory alveolar response
- Infection produced by Chlamydophila psittaci, an obligate intracellular parasitic bacterium
- Morphologically, antigenically, and genetically different from Chlamydia species
Commonly Associated Conditions
Pneumonitis (with a severe headache) is a common presentation.