Pet Education Birds
Pet Education Birds Pet Education Birds Pet Education Birds
Free Shipping on orders over $29
Psittacosis (Parrot Fever): Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention
Veterinary & Aquatic Services Department, Drs. Foster & Smith
Print Article | Email Article
Bookmark and Share
Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies

Psittacosis is also known as 'parrot fever,' ornithosis, or chlamydiosis. It is a widespread disease caused by an organism called Chlamydophila psittaci. Psittacosis can infect a variety of species including humans, birds, cows, cats, goats, sheep, and pigs. Among the bird species, it will infect just about anything with feathers including pet birds (psittacines), ratites, pigeons, poultry, ducks, and other migratory birds.

The transmission from bird to bird is primarily by inhalation of infected dust from droppings or respiratory secretions. It is often seen in birds that have been in close quarters such as quarantine stations, pet shops, or boarding facilities. Birds tend to shed the organism if stressed but may not show any signs of the disease.


No symptoms are specific to psittacosis. Birds can show any of the following signs: lack of appetite, weight loss, depression, listlessness, difficulty breathing, watery green droppings, pink eyes, discharge from eyes or nares, or sudden death. Those birds that are carriers and used for breeding can pass it to their offspring who may then die in the nest or at weaning or become carriers themselves.


Psittacosis is difficult to diagnose. Screening tests are available through laboratories and new tests are being developed to help diagnose the condition faster and easier. A presumptive diagnosis of psittacosis is made based on history of being esposed to other birds in th epreceding several weeks, clinical signs, x-rays, and blood work. If psittacosis is suspected, treatment should begin at once.


Specific treatment and route of administration are left to the avian veterinarian. It is important that the birds be isolated from other birds on the premises. No immunity develops to the disease: reinfection even after treatment and full recovery is possible.


Before a new bird comes into the household, it should have a veterinary examination and be isolated for at least six weeks. All birds should be purchased from a reputable supplier. These steps will help decrease the risk of bringing an infected bird into the household.

Transmission to humans

The chlamydial organism is capable of being transmitted from birds to humans. It is potentially dangerous for persons who are sick, elderly, or immunosuppressed (e.g. patients being treated for cancer or HIV/AIDS). Because the condition in humans may be misdiagnosed, anyone who is exposed to pet birds and who develops a prolonged case of the flu should seek the advice of a physician and make a point of telling their physician about their exposure to birds. To prevent psittacosis, wash your hands after handling your bird or cleaning the cage. Have any bird that shows signs of illness examined by your veterinarian.

Click here for a pdf version of this article.  See related products at Pet Supplies  
Print Article | Email Article
Avi-Era Bird Vitamins
Avi-Era Bird Vitamins
As low as $7.99
Hi-Calcium Grit for Birds
Hi-Calcium Grit for Birds
As low as $3.99
Hagen® Prime Supplement for Birds
Hagen® Prime Supplement for Birds
As low as $10.99
Kaytee Forti-Diet® Molting & Conditioning
Kaytee Forti-Diet® Molting & Conditioning
As low as $2.99

Facebook YouTube Blog Connect with us

Subscribe to email newsletters:
featuring helpful articles, tips and online only product specials from Drs. Foster & Smith. Learn more here !

About Us Article Reprints Awards & Memberships Request a FREE Catalog Tell a Friend
Meet Our Staff Terms & Use Site Map Free Newsletters Links to Us
Visit our other websites: Doctors Foster and Smith Pet Supplies - Quality Aquatic Life Direct to Your Door
For product information, call 1-800-826-7206

Copyright © 1997-2017, Petco Wellness, LLC. All rights reserved.
2253 Air Park Road, P.O. Box 100, Rhinelander, Wisconsin, 54501.
Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Your CA Privacy Rights | Copyright Claims | Pet Medical Records Policy