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This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

Parrot fever is a serious, potentially fatal  disease that can affect humans who come into close contact with parrots or other infected birds or animals.

It was in the late 19th century when a link was first recognised between a flu-like disease in humans and contact with "parrot fever". This disease later became known as "psittacosis" because it was contracted from psittacine birds and it was found to have a high mortality rate in humans ....up to 20% in some reports. The cause was originally thought to be a virus...but we now know that it is caused by bacteria that can only live inside cells....Chlamydia psittaci.

This organism is found in many normal, healthy birds worldwide and they only develop the disease when they become stressed.. It is  the same organism that causes a disease called ornithosis in ornithine birds, and it can cause disease in other species as well.

The clinical signs of psittacosis in parrots and humans are :

  • Birds
    • Infected birds can appear healthy
    • Depression
    • Inappetance
    • Respiratory disease - rapid breathing rate, open mouth breathing/gasping
    • Eye discharge
    • Nose discharge - sneezing
    • Watery green diarrhoea
    • Ruffled feathers
    • Weight loss
    • Sudden death in severe acute forms of the disease
  • Humans
    • Conjunctivitis
    • Flu-like disease
    • Headache
    • Fever
    • Pneumonia
    • CNS signs
    • Diarrhoea - uncommon
    • Renal failure
    • Death -  mortality rates of up to 20% have been reported

The infection is transmitted through direct contact with secretions from infected birds or animals, or by aerosol spread. It can be successfully treated with tetracycline antibiotics, but unfortunately once infected, and even  following recovery from treatment,  a Parrot often remains as a carrier of the disease, and so it is a potential risk to people.

If you have a Parrot always handle it with care, and wash hands thoroughly after contact. 

Always get veterinary advice if your Parrot is ill.

For more detailed advice about Psittacosis CLICK HERE


Updated October 2013