Psittacosis, or parrot fever, is a very rare disease transmitted from birds to humans. Only about 50 cases a year have been reported since 1996.
How is parrot fever transmitted?
Parrot fever is caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci. Many types of birds can spread the disease including parrots, chickens, turkeys, parakeets, and other pet birds. Although it is rare, a person can catch parrot fever by inhaling small droplets of its urine, feces, and other bodily excretions, or if the bird bites you or kisses you (mouth to beak).
What are the symptoms of parrot fever?
Flu-like symptoms usually begin about 10 days after exposure, but can show any time between 4 and 19 days. Symptoms include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Muscle and joint pain
- Weakness and fatigue
- Dry cough
- Chest pain
- Light sensitivity
- Shortness of breath
How is parrot fever diagnosed?
Since parrot fever is so rare, a doctor may suspect another illness. If you experience these symptoms and have come into contact with a sick bird, or if you work in a place in close proximity to birds such as a pet shop or vet’s office, tell your doctor. Blood or sputum tests and X rays can help determine if you have parrot fever. Occasionally, a doctor will check your antibody levels to see if you have been infected with Chlamydia psittaci.
How is parrot fever treated?
Parrot fever is treated with antibiotics. With proper antibiotics, you should recover completely.
How do I know if my bird has parrot fever?
Symptoms in birds include:
- Discharge from the eyes or nose
- Green droppings
- Weight loss
- Lethargy and sleepiness
- Loss of appetite
How can I prevent parrot fever?
To prevent your bird from getting sick, ensure that it has a spacious, clean cage. Follow steps to ensure that your bird is healthy. Avoid close contact with a sick bird.