PDF Version for this Fact Sheet
Psittacosis is usually spread to humans from birds
Birds in the parrot family (such as parrots, macaws, cockatiels, and parakeets) are animals that usually carry the infection. Other birds, like turkeys and pigeons, may also spread the disease. Both sick birds and birds that look healthy may spread Chlamydia psittaci bacteria, especially if the birds are stressed by crowding or shipping. Usually, people get infected after breathing dust from dried bird droppings or secretions. It is very unusual for one person to get psittacosis from another person.
Symptoms to look for:
Symptoms begin 1 to 4 weeks after the person breathes the infected dust. Psittacosis is usually a mild to moderate illness. The illness can be severe, especially in older people who do not get treatment. Even if you have had psittacosis, you can still get it again. See a doctor if you have flu-like symptoms or respiratory tract illness and you have been around birds that may be infected with Chlamydia psittaci. A blood test can be done to determine if you have psittacosis.
Early treatment with antibiotics can shorten the length of illness and prevent complications
Treatment must continue for at least 10 to 14 days after fever is gone.
Psittacosis can be prevented
201 W. Preston Street, Baltimore, MD 21201-2399
(410) 767-6500 or 1-877-463-3464