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.

What are the alternative names for Psittacosis?

Ornithosis; Parrot pneumonia

What are the causes for 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 for 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

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.

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 for 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.

Lungs
Respiratory system

REFERENCES

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.

  • Journal: Zhonghua jie he he hu xi za zhi = Zhonghua jiehe he huxi zazhi = Chinese journal of tuberculosis and respiratory diseases
  • Published —
Clinical and imaging features of Chlamydia psittaci pneumonia: an analysis of 48 cases in China.

There are no recent clinical trials available for this condition. Please check back because new trials are being conducted frequently.