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The Psittacosis is a zoonosis, ie own infection primarily of animals and which can then be transmitted to humans; in this case, the animals are birds, especially parrots, parrots and parakeets.

Ornithosis is called when the contagion is from birds other than those mentioned. There have also been cases of person-to-person transmission, especially in hospitals, although much less frequently.

It produces a clinical picture of pneumonia, accompanied by systemic symptoms.

It mainly affects farmers, pet shop owners, veterinarians and, in general, people whose jobs are related to birds (in these cases it is an occupational disease), as well as their owners.

In Spain, psittacosis is not frequent. The number of cases has decreased thanks to prevention methods that will be discussed later.

Causes of psittacosis

This infection is produced by the gram-negative bacterium Chlamydia psittaci, although in the cases of contagion between people it is spoken of an agent with similar characteristics, but more aggressive, since the clinical pictures it causes are more serious.

Bacteria are found in bird droppings, blood, and feathers; It does not matter if they are sick or if they are asymptomatic carriers of the microorganisms for the contagion to occur, which, moreover, only takes a few minutes.

Germs normally enter the human body by inhalation, although it can also be by touching the infected bird, by a peck from it or even by occupying a space where the animal has previously been.

Once inside the body, the incubation period is 7 to 14 days, during which the bacteria pass into the blood, through which they go to the liver and spleen, organs in which they multiply; then, again via the bloodstream, they spread to other organs, especially the lungs. In these there is an inflammatory reaction that causes edema, necrosis and, sometimes, hemorrhage.

You may also be interested in:   Tularemia

Symptoms of psittacosis

The onset of the manifestations of the disease is acute, with characteristic symptoms of pneumonia:

  • high fever
  • shaking chills
  • slight increase in respiratory rate
  • muscle and joint pain
  • headache

dry cough also appears , which after a few days can become productive and somewhat bloody. Chest pain rarely occurs. There may be some digestive disturbance, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation .

After a week, neurological symptoms may appear: delirium, drowsiness, and even coma.

Other occasional symptoms are skin spots (Horder spots), enlarged liver and spleen, and endocarditis .

The severity of the disease does not depend on how long you have been in contact with the infected bird.

Treatment of psittacosis

The treatment of choice for psittacosis is the use of antibiotics called tetracyclines (especially doxycycline).

In children, pregnant women and patients with allergies or intolerance to them, erythromycin is used.

Currently, with antibiotic treatment, the number of cures is greater than 99%.

How can I avoid it?

The prevention of this disease is carried out by means of sanitary control of imported exotic birds and using tetracyclines in the diets of farm birds.

When you are going to be in contact with birds for one reason or another, it is advisable to make sure that they have been subjected to these processes.

It is advisable to consult your family doctor if you suffer from the aforementioned symptoms.

If you have been around birds that may have been infected, it is convenient to tell them.


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Hello Readers, I am Nikki Bella a Psychology student. I have always been concerned about human behavior and the mental processes that lead us to act and think the way we do. My collaboration as an editor in the psychology area of ​​Well Being Pole has allowed me to investigate further and expand my knowledge in the field of mental health; I have also acquired great knowledge about physical health and well-being, two fundamental bases that are directly related and are part of all mental health.

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