Introduction to Psittacosis
Psittacosis is a disease that has long existed among the bird population and is also sometimes referred to as Parrot Disease, Ornithosis, and Chlamydiosis. Psittacosis is caused by the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci. Unlike many bird diseases, Psittacosis also carries with it the ability to be transferred from bird to human, making it of particular concern to bird owners.
The infection can be passed from bird to person by the following:
• Beak to mouth contact
• A bite (that breaks the skin) from an infected bird
• Handling plumage or tissues from an infected bird
• Inhaling the dust from dried, contaminated feces
To reduce the risk of disease, it is very important to practice proper hygiene after handling any bird. A thorough hand-washing or the use of a hand sanitizer is highly recommended.
Signs & Symptoms
Signs of Psittacosis in humans include:
• Chest pain, usually upon coughing
• Dry cough
Some signs of Psittacosis in birds include:
• Nasal or eye discharge
• Difficulty breathing
• Decreased appetite
• Weight loss
Please do not try to diagnose your bird by yourself.
Psittacosis can be detected by a swab taken from the birds’ feces. A veterinarian can take the swab from a bird during an office visit and diagnose the condition. A bird that tests positive will be started on a course of antibiotics and should be placed in isolation from other birds until the treatment period is over and the bird tests negative. Antibiotics are also the treatment for humans, and a proper regiment can be prescribed by your doctor. If you or anyone you know exhibits signs of this disease, you should consult your doctor immediately.
Although different forms of tetracycline are available in most pet stores (used to treat minor respiratory or intestinal infections), they are not meant as a substitute for proper medical care and will not cure Psittacosis. A diagnosis by a professional is the only way to determine the presence of Chlamydia Psittaci and to properly treat it.
Here at That Pet Place, every bird that comes into our store is tested by a veterinarian for Psittacosis, and no bird comes into our sales room without a negative test. Our new birds, after being tested, stay in a quarantined area of the store away from the aviary until they have been declared healthy and clear of Psittacosis.