You've Got What?
How infectious diseases are spread and simple and practical advice for preventing the spread of infection in the home and community
Psittacosis (sometimes called ornithosis or parrot disease or parrot fever) is an infection of the lung (pneumonia) caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila (Chlamydia) psittaci. The bacteria causing the disease are carried by wild and domesticated birds and it is likely that all birds are susceptible.
Psittacosis is a notifiable condition1
Even apparently healthy birds can shed Chlamydophila psittaci. People become infected when they inhale the bacteria from dried nose and eye secretions, droppings or dust from feathers of infected birds. Infection is a risk in:
Infection has been transmitted to gardeners spreading chicken manure on gardens. However, about one-quarter of people who get psittacosis have no history of obvious exposure to birds.
Symptoms are very varied, but commonly include:
Illness ranges from mild through to severe and is sometimes fatal.
The diagnosis is suspected based on the clinical presentation, especially if the patient has a history of exposure to birds. The diagnosis is confirmed by a series of blood tests and a chest x-ray.
(time between becoming infected and developing symptoms)
From 1 to 4 weeks.
(time during which an infected person can infect others)
Person-to-person spread is unlikely to occur. Apparently healthy as well as diseased birds may shed the bacteria for months. Re-infection of people and birds may occur.
Specific and effective antibiotic therapy is available.
1 – In South Australia the law requires doctors and laboratories to report some infections or diseases to SA Health. These infections or diseases are commonly referred to as 'notifiable conditions'.