Psittacosis or parrot disease is a zoonotic disease that is caused by the bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci. The infection is contracted from parrots, pigeons, sparrows, ducks, hens, gulls, etc.

Psittacosis Causes

Psittacosis is a highly infectious disease caused by Chlamydophila psittaci, a bacterium found in bird droppings. Birds transmit the infection to humans.

People who are at risk of contracting the disease are employees at a pet shop, pet owners, those working at poultry-processing plants and vets. The birds involved in the transmission f the infection are parrots, parakeets, pigeons, sparrows, and budgerigars, though, other birds can also cause a spread of psittacosis.

Psittacosis Symptoms

The symptoms in birds may be hardly noticeable or really severe. The infection may be acute or chronic.

Commonly seen symptoms in birds include:

Inflammation of the eyes of the bird
Breathing difficulty
Green urates
Watery droppings.

The most common symptoms seen in humans are:

Cough with bloody sputum
Extreme fatigue and weakness
Muscle pains

The symptoms of the infection become apparent after 5 to 14 days in humans. In the 1st week, symptoms may mimic typhoid, i.e. there may be fever, diarrhea, body ache, diarrhea, and leucopenia. The spleen gets enlarged. The headache is so severe, it mimics meningitis. At the end of the 1st week, unconsciousness or even coma may set in. 2nd week of infection, imitates pneumonia with cough, fever and breathlessness.

Psittacosis Treatment

Diagnosis is made on the symptoms and clinical features. The presence of infection is confirmed via an antigen and anti body test. Clinical and laboratory investigations are necessary before giving the bird a clean bill of health. Timely diagnosis is very important as is starting the accurate treatment plan, since; the infection can kill in 3 weeks.

Psittacosis Treatment in Birds

Antibiotics, such as tetracycline are given to the bird. The drug can be administered as drops in the water or in the form of injections.

In humans, the diagnosis is made by getting a culture from the respiratory secretions of the patient and by estimating the antibody titer in the blood. A high titer of the anti bodies is a clear-cut sign of infection. A four-fold increase in the level of the anti bodies against C. psittaci, along with the symptoms of the disease help make the diagnosis. A blood culture is done to identify the bacteria. Your physician will also examine you and will hear abnormal lung sounds and diminished breath sounds. Your doctor will advise you to get an X-ray or CT scan of the chest to rule out complications.

Psittacosis Treatment in Humans

Anti biotic drugs such as chloramphenicol and tetracycline are administered to mange the condition successfully. In the preliminary stage of the treatment, of a severe case, doxycycline hyclate may be administered intravenously. Reduction in the intensity of the symptoms is seen in 48 - 72 hours. However, relapses are quite common, and the treatment should be continued for 10 - days after the fever has gone.

Early diagnosis and timely treatment are really vital, and decide the prognosis of the case. Prognosis is fairly good. Probable complications that influence the prognosis are: a brain involvement, decreased functioning of the lungs because of pneumonia, an infection of the heart valves and hepatitis.

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