Psittacosis is a disease caused by a bacteria, Chlamydophila psittaci, which is carried by certain types of birds.
Psittacosis is spread primarily from birds. While typically associated with parrot-like species, such as lovebirds (Agapornis roseicollis), many different types of birds can carry the bacteria. The infected birds may not show any signs of illness. People are typically exposed when particles of bird feces or urine are introduced to the air through blowing dust, landscaping activities, etc. Direct handling of infected birds can also be a source of infection.
Psittacosis usually causes a respiratory infection with symptoms of cough, fever, headache, and discomfort. Some cases may develop pneumonia. In very rare cases infections can spread to other organs such as the heart, kidneys, liver, and brain.
Not much evidence of spreading person to person. While psittacosis is not usually contagious, it is recommended that sick people cover their coughs and that others avoid contact with respiratory secretions.
Treatment options are available. This infection is usually treated with antibiotics which should be prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Wear protection when working outdoors. If the potential for kicking up dust and other particles is high, wearing a mask can help protect against psittacosis.
Wear protection when working with birds. If handling wild birds or other birds that could be infected, wearing a mask and gloves can help protect against psittacosis.
Consult a veterinarian. Birds that appear ill should be separated from other healthy birds and seen by a veterinarian.
Control wild bird populations. “Bird-proofing” and using other methods to discourage nesting in areas around your home will decrease the possibility of being exposed to psittacosis.