Psittacosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called
Bacteria as Seen Through Microscope
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
Humans get psittacosis from certain birds, including:
Some infected birds have symptoms, such as losing feathers, runny eyes, change in eating habits, and diarrhea. Other birds appear well, but can still spread the infection to humans. People usually become infected from breathing in dust from the dried droppings or bodily fluids of birds that are sick. The infection can also spread when a person touches his or her mouth to the beak of an infected bird. Even brief exposure to sick birds can lead to psittacosis. The infection rarely spreads from one person to another.
Factors that increase your risk for getting psittacosis include: Handling a pet bird
Occupations with exposure to birds, including:
VeterinarianZoo workerLaboratory workerFarmerPoultry plant worker
Symptoms of psittacosis begin 1–4 weeks after exposure to a sick bird. Symptoms can involve nearly any part of the body. Symptoms may include:
with severe breathing problems
HeadacheSore throatMuscle achesChest painRash
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Your doctor may need to test your bodily fluids. This can be done with blood tests.Your doctor may need pictures of your bodily structures. This can be done with
The main treatment for psittacosis is antibiotics. You should take them for 10-14 days after the fever is gone. The antibiotic
is usually prescribed to treat this condition.
If you have severe breathing problems, you may need to be hospitalized for oxygen and IV antibiotics.
You can take several steps to prevent psittacosis, including:
Avoid birds that appear to be sick.Keep your mouth away from a bird’s beak.Buy pet birds from a dealer with an exotic bird permit.If you have two or more birds, keep their cages apart.Keep new birds away from other birds for 4-6 weeks.Clean bird cages, food bowls, and water bowls every day. Disinfect them every week with bleach or rubbing alcohol.If your bird appears to be sick, take it to a veterinarian right away.
Stewardson AJ, Grayson ML. Psittacosis.
Infect Dis Clin North Am.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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