Psittacosis

Cause: Bacterium Chlamydia psittaci.

Illness and treatment: Abrupt onset of fever, chills, headache, and nonproductive cough which may progress to shortness of breath and pneumonia. Treatment is with antibiotics.

Sources: Birds in the parrot family are common sources, with poultry, pigeons, canaries, and sea birds being less common sources. Infection usually occurs when a person inhales organisms excreted in aerosolized dried feces or respiratory tract secretions of infected birds.

Prevention: Avoid purchasing or selling birds that appear ill; practice preventive husbandry; and wear protective clothing when cleaning cages or handling infected birds. If respiratory or influenza-like symptoms occur after bird caretaking, seek medical attention and report bird contact.

Recent Washington trends: Each year there are 0 to 4 reports, commonly associated with indoor exposure to pet birds and less commonly farm or wild birds.

Purpose of Reporting and Surveillance

  • To identify sources of transmission (e.g., a pet shop or poultry processing plant) and to prevent further transmission from such sources.
  • When the source is a risk for only to a few individuals (e.g., a pet bird with avian chlamydiosis, to inform those individuals how they can reduce their risk of exposure.

Legal Reporting Requirements

  • Health care providers: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours
  • Health care facilities: notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours
  • Laboratories: Chlamydia psittaci notifiable to local health jurisdiction within 24 hours; specimen submission is on request only
  • Veterinarians: Suspected human cases notifiable within 24 hours to the local health jurisdiction; avian chlamydiosis cases notifiable to Washington State Department of Agriculture (see: https://app.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=16-70)
  • Local health jurisdictions: notifiable to DOH Communicable Disease Epidemiology (CDE) within 7 days of case investigation completion or summary information required within 21 days