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What is Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) & How is it Treated?|Causes & Symptoms of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis)

What Is Parrot Fever (Psittacosis)?

Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) is an extremely rare bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci. Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) is quite rare in the United States with only about 10 cases of this condition being reported in the last decade. However, there are always chances of the condition being undiagnosed due to the similarity of the symptoms of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) to various other illnesses. This condition is transmitted to humans from birds.

The name would suggest as parrot being the most likely culprit, but there are also other infected birds that can transmit Parrot Fever (Psittacosis). This condition is mostly seen in countries like Argentina, Australia, and England, although areas where a lot of birds are kept like poultry farms and places where the climate is tropical there is an increased risk for Parrot Fever.

What Causes Parrot Fever (Psittacosis)?

As stated the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci is the primary reason for the development of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis). The birds from which an individual can be infected with Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) are:

  • Parrots
  • Chickens
  • Turkeys
  • Pigeons
  • Ducks

An individual can get Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) by handling an infected bird or breathing in fine particles of its urine, feces, or other substances excreted from their body. An individual is also at risk for contracting it, if the bird touches the mouth of the individual with its beak which parrots do more often.

Human to human transmission of Parrots Disease is extremely rare. In some cases, however, if an infected individual coughs and the tiny droplets enter the body of another individual then they may also get it.

What Are The Symptoms Of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis)?

What Are The Symptoms Of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis)?

The symptoms of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) are similar to that of influenza or pneumonia. The onset of symptoms is usually about two weeks after the exposure to the bacteria, but in some cases the symptoms may take as little as a week to show up. Some of the common symptoms of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) are:

How Is Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) Diagnosed?

As Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) is extremely rare, there are always chances of it being undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. In such instances the individual needs to make sure that he or she tells the physician that he or she has been in and around poultry farms or places where they have been exposed to lot of birds, so that the physician may take Parrot Fever also into consideration as a cause of the symptoms.

Once Parrot Fever is suspected, the physician will perform blood and laboratory tests which will clearly show the presence of the bacteria responsible for causing this condition and thus confirm the diagnosis of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis).

This can also be done by checking antibodies for the bacterium that causes Parrot Fever. A change in the level of antibodies will also confirm the diagnosis of it.

How Is Parrot Fever (Psittacosis) Treated?

Antibiotics are front line treatment for Parrot Fever (Psittacosis). Tetracycline and doxycycline are the most preferred antibiotics given for the treatment of it.

In cases of infants with Parrot Fever, azithromycin is the most preferred medication for its treatment. The usual course of antibiotics is around two weeks for complete removal of bacteria causing Parrot Fever.

When it comes to recovery period of Parrot Fever (Psittacosis), majority of the people recover completely after the course of antibiotics, although it may take longer for elderly patients or immunocompromised patients to completely recover from Parrot Fever (Psittacosis).


Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:July 17, 2023

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