Locations Main Campus: Chesterfield, MO 63017   |   Locations
314-434-1500 314-434-1500   |   Contact Us

Multimedia Encyclopedia


 
E-mail Form
Email Results

 
 
Print-Friendly
Bookmarks
bookmarks-menu

Psittacosis

Ornithosis; Parrot pneumonia

 

Psittacosis is an infection caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, a type of bacteria found in the droppings of birds. Birds spread the infection to humans.

Causes

 

Psittacosis infection develops when you breathe in (inhale) the bacteria. People between 30 to 60 years are commonly affected.

People at high risk for this disease include:

  • Bird owners
  • Pet shop employees
  • People who work in poultry processing plants
  • Veterinarians

Typical birds involved are parrots, parakeets, and budgerigars, although other birds have also caused the disease.

Psittacosis is a rare disease. Very few cases are reported each year in the United States.

 

Symptoms

 

The incubation period of psittacosis is of 5 to 15 days. The incubation period is the time it takes for symptoms to appear after being exposed to the bacteria.

Symptoms may include:

  • Blood-tinged sputum
  • Dry cough
  • Fatigue
  • Fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Joint aches
  • Muscle aches (most often in the head and neck)
  • Shortness of breath

 

Exams and Tests

 

The health care provider will hear abnormal lung sounds such as crackles and decreased breath sounds when listening to the chest with a stethoscope.

Tests that may be done include:

  • Antibody titer (rising titer over time is a sign of infection)
  • Blood culture
  • Sputum culture
  • X-ray of the chest
  • Complete blood count

 

Treatment

 

The infection is treated with antibiotics. Doxycycline is used first. Other antibiotics that may be given include:

  • Macrolides
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Other tetracycline antibiotics

Note: Tetracycline and doxycycline by mouth are usually not given to children until after all their permanent teeth have started to grow in, because they can permanently discolor teeth that are still forming. These medicines are also not given to pregnant women. Other antibiotics are used in these situations.

 

Outlook (Prognosis)

 

A full recovery is expected if you do not have any other conditions that affect your health.

 

Possible Complications

 

Complications of psittacosis may include:

  • Brain involvement
  • Decreased lung function as a result of the pneumonia
  • Heart valve infection
  • Inflammation of the liver (hepatitis)

 

When to Contact a Medical Professional

 

Antibiotics are needed to treat this infection. If you develop symptoms of psittacosis, call your provider.

 

Prevention

 

Avoid exposure to birds that may carry these bacteria, such as parrots. Medical problems that lead to a weak immune system increase your risk for this disease and should be treated appropriately.

 

 

References

Geisler WM. Diseases caused by Chlamydiae. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 318.

Schlossberg D. Psittacosis (due to Chlamydia psittaci). In: Bennett JE, Dolin R, Blaser MJ, eds. Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, Updated Edition. 8th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 183.

 
  • Lungs

    Lungs - illustration

    The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.

    Lungs

    illustration

  • Respiratory system

    Respiratory system - illustration

    Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.

    Respiratory system

    illustration

    • Lungs

      Lungs - illustration

      The major features of the lungs include the bronchi, the bronchioles and the alveoli. The alveoli are the microscopic blood vessel-lined sacks in which oxygen and carbon dioxide gas are exchanged.

      Lungs

      illustration

    • Respiratory system

      Respiratory system - illustration

      Air is breathed in through the nasal passageways, travels through the trachea and bronchi to the lungs.

      Respiratory system

      illustration


     

    Review Date: 8/21/2016

    Reviewed By: Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, MHS, Paul F. Harron, Jr. Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

    The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
    adam.com

     
     
     

     

     

    A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.



    Content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Firefox and Google Chrome browser.