The causative agent of parrot fever (= psittacosis) is the gram-negative bacterium Chlamydia psittaci. The bacterium belongs to the group of chlamydia and is the causative agent of ornithosis in birds and humans.
The pathogen occurs worldwide. The disease is notifiable as soon as psittacosis is detected in parrots and parakeets (Psittaciformes). If birds of other species are infected with chlamydia, this infection is called ornithosis. Psittacosis is a zoonosis (i.e. a disease that can be transmitted from animals to humans), but is generally rare.
The natural reservoir of C. psittaci are all birds (parrots, pigeons, gulls, ducks, turkeys, chicken, ...). Other chlamydia also occurs in mammals (cats, dogs, goats, sheep, cows, pigs...).
Mode of transmission
All secretions and excretions are infectious. The pathogen is usually ingested with droplet infection by inhaling infectious faeces and dust or aerosols.
3 to 29 days
Symptoms in birds are pneumonia, coughing, emaciation, ruffled feathers, diarrhoea, eye and nose discharge. Death may occur after a few days to several weeks or the disease may become chronic, in which the birds appear to recover but continue to shed pathogens.
The means of choice for therapy are tetracyclines (oxytetracyclines), which must be given on a long-term basis.
As a preventive measure, birds must be placed in quarantine and tested for chlamydia after purchase. The usual hygiene measures for handling animals must be followed. Be careful when in direct contact with bird excrements. It is recommended to wear protective mask, gloves and protective clothing when handling infected birds. Psittacosis is a notifiable animal disease according to the Animal Diseases Act. Direct vaccination against the pathogen is not possible.