Psittacosis or Avian Chlamydiosis – Symptoms and Treatment

Psittacosis or avian chlamydiosis - symptoms and treatment

Chlamydia or psittacosis is one of the most common diseases in birds. Psittacosis is an infectious disease that is usually transmitted to humans from infected birds of the parrot family. Birds of the parrot or psittacin family include parrots, macaws, budgies and budgies (budgies). There have been cases of domestic turkeys and pigeons also infecting humans. Therefore, if you live with birds or are considering adopting a bird, it is important that you recognize the symptoms and take action in the event of an infection.

The following AnimalWised article explains everything you need to know chlamydiosis in birdsits symptoms, treatment and prevention.

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Avian chlamydiosis, also known as psittacosis, is a bird disease caused by bacteria Chlamydia psittaci. The disease is common in wild birds, caged birds and aviary birds. Avian chlamydiosis can infect all birds, but pet birds, especially parrots such as budgies, lorries and cockatiels, are infected more often than other birds.

Is avian chlamydiosis contagious to humans?

Yes, psittacosis or avian chlamydiosis is a zoonotic disease, which means that birds carrying this bacterium can transmit it to humans. Transmission between and to birds occurs mainly through inhalation of dust containing dried saliva, feathers, mucus and faeces of infected birds. Direct contact with feathers, bird droppings and bedding, saliva and mucus, and contaminated food or water can also cause disease.

Symptoms of chlamydiosis with people are:

  • Severe headache
  • General nausea
  • Shaking chills
  • Muscle aches and pains

In any case, the occurrence of avian chlamydiosis in humans is very low, although there are thousands of birds that transmit the disease. Most people are resistant to bacteria unless their immune system is weakened.

However, transmission may occur. In humans, the infection causes psittacosis, and mild influenza-like illness which can sometimes lead to severe pneumonia.

For more information on the diseases that birds can transmit to humans, read this AnimalWised article, which explains how we can become infected and what symptoms cause bird disease in humans.

Birds infected with this bacterium can be asymptomatic, that is, they do not show any symptoms, even if they are carriers, and therefore can infect other birds and humans. For example, cockatoos can live for many years as carriers without showing any symptoms.

Problems occur when the immune system of birds is weakened. Symptoms of chlamydia in birds may include:

  • Diarrhea or watery stools
  • Conjunctivitis and discharge from the eyes
  • Sneezing and runny nose
  • Apathy
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty moving or flying
  • Death

Symptoms of psittacosis or avian chlamydiosis are not very specific in addition, various organs such as the liver, spleen, respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract may be affected. So if you live with one of these birds and notice a change in their behavior, be sure to visit your trusted veterinarian.

Because the clinical signs of chlamydiosis in birds are non-specific, diagnosis is complicated. Therefore, laboratory tests are needed to confirm that it is a disease. Your veterinarian may perform the following tests to establish a definitive diagnosis of chlamydia in birds:

  • Bone scanning
  • Ultrasound
  • Analysis of liver enzymes
  • White blood cell count

Although these methods require an external laboratory and are more expensive, there is a laboratory method for isolating C. Psit there. One of the most reliable diagnostic methods is the direct detection of Chlamydophila DNA by PCR.

Infected birds must be isolated and their cages must be disinfected. Treatment is not always 100% effective in eliminating the infectionso the infection may recur after treatment and the same bird can be re-infected with another strain C. Psittaci.

To learn more about pet birds and their different species, read this article on pet bird species.

There are several treatment protocols for psittacosis or avian chlamydiosis and the veterinarian will select the one that is most suitable for each case.

The most common treatment is antibiotic therapywhich may be oral, water soluble or injectable. If only one bird is infected, injection therapy is probably the best choice due to its effectiveness. However, if more than one bird is infected, a more practical variant may be water-soluble, although it is difficult to control the amount of water that each bird drinks.

On the other hand, as we explained in the symptoms section, the eye area is often affected by chlamydia, which results in eye discharge. If this is the case for your bird, your veterinarian may prescribe an antibiotic in the form of drops applied directly to your eyes.

In addition to antibiotic treatment to kill bacteria, other treatments may be needed to relieve the symptoms.

The duration of treatment and the prognosis vary greatly and depend mainly on how soon chlamydia is detected in birds. If several birds live together, it is advisable to separate birds that show clinical signs from those that appear to be healthy at the end of treatment. In general, birds should be re-examined after 45 days of treatment.

As mentioned earlier, birds can transmit these bacteria to other birds through nasal, oral or fecal secretions. For this reason, it is important to preserve the bird environment clean at all times. Clean all cages, food bowls and water bowls every day. It is also recommended to moisten the bedding before cleaning to reduce the risk of disease and to use dust-free bedding such as newspapers.

The risk of psittacosis is much higher in places where there are many birds, so caution is advised. AND high population density increases the risk of chlamydia and makes it difficult to disinfect everything.

If you decide to adopt or raise a new bird, quarantine it before introducing it to other birds. This way, you can catch any clinical signs before you risk spreading the disease to other healthy birds. This is especially important for clubs or rescue centers that accept birds in poor condition.

It is also important that you protect yourself. Therefore, wash your hands with soap and running water for 10 seconds before and after handling birds, and use gloves when handling birds that may be infected.

Finally, regular visits to the veterinarian are a highly recommended precautionary measure for exotic animals. In addition, regular visits allow early detection of changes or problems in birds, which improves prognosis.

To learn more about the various bird diseases and how we can recognize the symptoms, read the article on how to find out if my parrot is sick.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe veterinary treatment or make a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the vet if he suffers from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles like Psittacosis or avian chlamydiosis – symptoms and treatmentwe recommend visiting our category Bacterial diseases.

  1. Moschioni, C. Faria, H. Reis, MS Silva. E. (2001) Chlamydia psittaci severe pneumonia . Pulmonology Journal.
  • Grespan, A. (2009). Chlamydiosis in cockatoos (Nymphicus hollandicus): owner profile and therapeutic study . Thesis. Faculty of Veterinary and Zootechnics. University of São Paulo.
  • Silva, S. (2013). Clinical and laboratory evaluation and detection of Chlamydophila psittaci in cockatoos (Nymphicus hollandicus) from the Federal District, Brazil . Diploma thesis in animal health. Faculty of Agronomy and Veterinary Medicine, University of Brasilia.

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