Psittacosis is a serious infection of birds and humans which is caused by a virus-like bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci. Veterinarians call the disease Chlamydiosis and doctors call it Psittacosis. Psittacosis may become highly contagious (it is spread in the air or by droppings) from bird to bird and even from bird to human.
It was not many years ago that humans died from Psittacosis. My mother had it in c.1964 and almost died, I showed the antibodies in my blood but showed no symptoms.
Birds usually develop a problem with psittacosis when they are either under stress or have been exposed to high levels of the germ, and the rest of the time it may simply lay dormant.
The symptoms are many and varied and it usually is diagnosed by a vet as all normal treatments for ill birds have failed.
Psittacosis is diagnosed by a special cloacal sway test, or with a culture from the throat and or from the droppings.
There are many treatments from initial injection of Doxycycline which renders the bird non contagious within a couple of days, through to treatment with chemicals on a daily basis for up to 40+days.
During the treatment period it is wise to treat your whole flock, but still keep the birds showing symptoms isolated from the rest.
Clean and disinfect cage each week.
After treatment it is wise to use a soluble vitamin and mineral supplement to boost the birds health.
Humans can get kidney failure, severe liver disease and may even die if the disease is not identified and treated early enough. Signs of Psittacosis in humans include chronic fatigue, headaches, flu-like symptoms, nausea, chest pain, abdominal cramps and fever.
Treatment in humans is essential if there is any indication of Psittacosis.
Center for Diseases Control & Prevention www.cdc.gov/az.do
Understanding Psittacosis by Hannis L Stoddard III, DMV
Psittacosis - Mike Owen. Queensland Australia (1997)
Bird Health Dr. Rob Marshall. B.V.Sc. www.birdhealth.com.au
Published 28/02/05 James Hart