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PSITTACOSIS 1557 1603 Ekua Esuon Thompson

It is a highly contagious disease, with a mortality rate of about 50% among birds.  Several species of birds (over 465 species) can be affected by this disease, however, birds of the Parrot family or Psittacines are the most affected, hence the name psittacosis. It is also referred to as Parrot Fever.Turkeys and ducks are more susceptible to this disease compared to chickens. This is also a zoonotic disease; this means that humans are at risk of contracting this disease.

Psittacosis is caused by the bacterium, Chlamydia psittaci. There are several subtypes (strains) of Chlamydia psittaci. Some of these strains are known to cause severe infections in humans. Healthy birds or humans can get infected through inhalation or via a  faecal-oral route from infected birds (they could be sick/ diseased birds or carriers; they do not show signs of the disease but can spread the bacterium). Other sources of infection include contact with infected arthropods and contaminated environment (feed, water, toys, perch). Mother to chicks (vertical transmission) transmission is possible.

Clinical Signs include: weight loss, swollen and watery eyes, ocular and nasal discharges, ruffled feathers, yellowish or green droppings, breathlessness. Therapy is based on laboratory findings and presenting clinical signs. Treatment can last from about two weeks to a month. Birds who recover remain carriers of the bacterium and can potentially spread to other birds in the future.

It is important to protect yourself when handling a bird infected with psittacosis. Put on protective gear, mask and gloves when cleaning their cages and it is recommended to disinfect or wash your hands and clothing afterwards. All new birds (pets or poultry) should be quarantined, for a minimum of 14 days to check for possible clinical signs of this important disease.