Psittacosis

(Parrot Fever; Ornithosis)

Definition

Psittacosis is an infection that is passed to humans from birds. It may cause a variety of flu-like symptoms.
Bacteria as Seen Through Microscope
Bacteria
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Causes

Psittacosis is caused by a specific bacteria. The bacteria is passed from a sick bird. People may come in contact with the bacteria when they inhale the dust of dried bird droppings from the sick bird. The bacteria can also pass when a person touches his or her mouth to the beak of an infected bird. Even minor contact with sick birds can lead to psittacosis. The bacteria can pass from one person to another, but it is rare.

Risk Factors

Handling a pet bird increases the risk of psittacosis. Some infected birds have symptoms, such as losing feathers, runny eyes, a change in eating habits, and diarrhea. Other birds may appear well, but can still spread the infection to humans.Certain occupations also increase the risk of this infection including:
  • Veterinarian
  • Zoo worker
  • Laboratory worker
  • Farmer
  • Poultry plant worker
Birds most often associated with psittacosis infection in people, include:
  • Parrots
  • Macaws
  • Cockatiels
  • Parakeets
  • Turkeys
  • Pigeons

Symptoms

Psittacosis may cause:
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle aches
  • Chest pain
  • Rash

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.Your body fluids may be tested. This can be done with blood tests. Images may be taken of your body structures. This can be done with a chest x-ray .

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