Learn About Psittacosis

What is the definition of Psittacosis?

Psittacosis is an infection caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, a type of bacteria found in the droppings of birds. Birds spread the infection to humans.

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What are the alternative names for Psittacosis?

Ornithosis; Parrot pneumonia

What are the causes of Psittacosis?

Psittacosis infection develops when you breathe in (inhale) the bacteria. People between 30 to 60 years are commonly affected.

People at high risk for this disease include:

  • Bird owners
  • Pet shop employees
  • People who work in poultry processing plants
  • Veterinarians

Typical birds involved are parrots, parakeets, and budgerigars, although other birds have also caused the disease.

Psittacosis is a rare disease. Very few cases are reported each year in the United States.

What are the symptoms of Psittacosis?

The incubation period of psittacosis is of 5 to 15 days. The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after being exposed to the bacteria.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blood-tinged sputum
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Joint aches
  • Muscle aches (most often in the head and neck)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Swelling in the back of the throat (pharyngitis)
  • Swelling of the liver
  • Confusion
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What are the current treatments for Psittacosis?

The infection is treated with antibiotics. Doxycycline is used first. Other antibiotics that may be given include:

  • Macrolides
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Other tetracycline antibiotics

Note: Tetracycline and doxycycline by mouth are usually not given to children until after all their permanent teeth have started to grow in, because they can permanently discolor teeth that are still forming. These medicines are also not given to pregnant women. Other antibiotics are used in these situations.

Who are the top Psittacosis Local Doctors?
Highly rated in


Bacterial Zoonosis Unit, Anses Maisons Alfort, Paris Est University 
Paris, FR 

Fabien Vorimore is in Paris, France. Vorimore is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Psittacosis. He is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. His top areas of expertise are Psittacosis, Chlamydia, Atypical Pneumonia, and Pseudomonas Stutzeri Infections.

Highly rated in

University Of The Sunshine Coast

Sippy Downs, QLD, AU 4556

Martina Jelocnik is in Sippy Downs, Australia. Jelocnik is rated as an Elite expert by MediFind in the treatment of Psittacosis. She is also highly rated in 3 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Chlamydia, Psittacosis, Conjunctivitis, and Atypical Pneumonia.

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Highly rated in


Bacterial Zoonoses Unit, Animal Health Laboratory, University Paris Est 
Maisons-les-soulaines, FR 94706

Karine Laroucau is in Maisons-les-soulaines, France. Laroucau is rated as a Distinguished expert by MediFind in the treatment of Psittacosis. She is also highly rated in 2 other conditions, according to our data. Her top areas of expertise are Psittacosis, Chlamydia, Pseudomonas Stutzeri Infections, and Western Equine Encephalitis.

What is the outlook (prognosis) for Psittacosis?

A full recovery is expected if you do not have any other conditions that affect your health.

What are the possible complications of Psittacosis?

Complications of psittacosis may include:

  • Brain involvement
  • Decreased lung function as a result of the pneumonia
  • Heart valve infection
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)
When should I contact a medical professional for Psittacosis?

Antibiotics are needed to treat this infection. If you develop symptoms of psittacosis, call your provider.

How do I prevent Psittacosis?

Avoid exposure to birds that may carry these bacteria, such as parrots. Medical problems that lead to a weak immune system increase your risk for this disease and should be treated appropriately.

Respiratory system
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What are the Latest Advances for Psittacosis?
Sixteen cases of severe pneumonia caused by Chlamydia psittaci in South China investigated via metagenomic next-generation sequencing.
Pregnancy combined with severe pneumonia caused by Chlamydia psittaci infection - a case report.
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Clinical and imaging features of Chlamydia psittaci pneumonia: an analysis of 48 cases in China.
Who are the sources who wrote this article ?

Published Date : August 03, 2020
Published By : Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

What are the references for this article ?

Geisler WM. Diseases caused by chlamydiae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 26th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 302.

Schlossberg D. Psittacosis (due to Chlamydia psittaci). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases. Schlossberg D. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 181.