Psittacosis is an infection caused by a bacterium called Chlamydophila psittaci .
Bacteria as Seen Through Microscope
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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:
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:
Your doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
The main treatment for psittacosis is antibiotics. You should take them for 10-14 days after the fever is gone. The antibiotic macrolide 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:
American Veterinary Medicine Association
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Eidson M. Psittacosis/avian chlamydiosis. J Am Vet Med Assoc . 2002;221(12):1710-2. Available at: https://www.avma.org/News/Journals/Collections/Documents/javma_221_12_1710.pdf . Accessed January 8, 2013.
Psittacosis. Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website. Available at: http://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/diseases/psittacosis.html . Updated February 2, 2009. Accessed January 8, 2013.
Psittacosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/psittacosis_t.htm . Updated January 13, 2009. Accessed January 8, 2013.
Stewardson AJ, Grayson ML. Psittacosis. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2010;24(1):7-25.
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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