Psittacosis in the parrot: be contagious!

Parrot psittacosis is highly contagious and can also be transmitted to humans as a so-called zoonosis. The sooner you go to the vet with suspected parrot disease, the better. Then you can get a good grip on it with antibiotics and hygiene measures. If you have the slightest suspicion of psittacosis, you should go to the vet with your parrot - Shutterstock / Lucky Business

Unfortunately, psittacosis in parrots and humans only manifests itself through general symptoms of the disease. They can easily be mistaken for the signs of a cold or flu. If one of your birds is sickly, it is best to go to the vet with him. He can determine whether it really is the parrot disease. If the result is positive, the veterinarian must report the case to the Veterinary Office and Health Office.

What is parrot psittacosis?

Parrot psittacosis, also called parrot disease, is a bacterial infectious disease. Other birds can also carry and pass on the pathogens, for example pigeons, seagulls or budgerigars. The disease is therefore also called ornithosis, which can be translated as "bird disease". At the same time, psittacosis belongs to the zoonoses - these are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.

The causative agents of the parrot disease are chlamydia, more precisely: Chlamydophila psittaci. Other chlamydia, for example, can cause an STD in humans. A form of infamous cat sniffing is also caused by a type of chlamydia. In dogs, for example, chlamydia causes conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis), pneumonia (pneumonia) and meningitis (meningitis).

This is how the parrot disease is transmitted

Birds and humans can become infected with psittacosis through the faeces, nasal or ocular secretions of sick animals. The most common way of transmission is through infected droppings in bird sand. If this is whirled up and inhaled, the pathogen gets into the respiratory tract of humans or animals. Infection usually occurs when a new bird moves into your home or lives with you temporarily. Birds can also become infected with sick fellows at exhibitions.

The problem is that not all sick birds show symptoms. You will then be healthy, but still excrete the pathogen. In this way, apparently healthy animals can transmit psittacosis.

Tip: If a new bird comes to you, first leave it in quarantine. At the slightest suspicion of psittacosis, go to the vet and have him checked.

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Symptoms of psittacosis in parrots and humans

The symptoms of parrot disease are very non-specific in humans and animals. Your bird may experience the following signs:

● General weakness
● Loss of appetite and lack of appetite
● apathy
● weight loss
Ruffed plumage
● diarrhea (sometimes bloody)
● tremor
● cramps
● Signs of paralysis on wings and legs
● respiratory problems
● runny nose
● conjunctivitis

In people, psittacosis is easily confused with the flu. Possible symptoms are:

● headache and body aches
● cough
● Shortness of breath
● fever
● Chills
● Swollen lymph nodes on the neck
● sore throat

If you yourself have birds as pets or, for professional reasons, have close contact with pigeons, raven birds, seagulls and other feather carriers, you should be cautious of these signs. For safety, it is best to go to the doctor immediately and tell him about your suspected psittacosis. He can then test whether it is actually the parrot disease or just normal flu - and treat you accordingly. Do not procrastinate any of the diseases. Otherwise complications such as pneumonia can occur.

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So the vet makes the diagnosis of parrot disease

The symptoms alone are not enough to diagnose the parrot disease. However, in combination with the history of the sick bird, they provide important information. The analysis of the medical history is called anamnesis. With specific questions about the origin of the bird, its life circumstances and the context when the first signs of illness appear, the veterinarian determines whether the suspicion of psittacosis seems justified. A diagnosis of faeces and blood can further confirm the diagnosis.

Attention! The feces and blood tests can give a negative result, although the bird carries chlamydia and can pass on psittacosis. Therefore, the vet may recommend treatment for parrot disease, even if the test results are negative.

Treating psittacosis: antibiotics, hygiene and control

Since chlamydia are bacteria, they can be easily combated with antibiotics. This applies both to the treatment of psittacosis in birds and in humans. It is very likely that other animals in your household will also need antibiotics. Because the parrot disease is so contagious, transmission can never be ruled out with certainty.

You must also wear protective clothing when entering the aviary of your birds and clean the living area of ​​your pets thoroughly with special cleaning and disinfection measures. The veterinarian will check your sick bird and its roommates regularly after the actual antibiotic treatment to check whether they still excrete pathogens. Unfortunately, birds who have survived psittacosis are not immune to the disease. So one day it may break out again.

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