Typically, psittacosis causes flu-like disease and is easily treated, if diagnosed properly, however more severe disease can develop. Infected birds can shed the bacterium through feces and nasal secretions. People usually become infected by inhaling aerosolized bacteria from dried feces or nasal secretion.
Psittacosis is an uncommon disease. Only 125 human cases were reported to the CDC in the US between 2000 and 2006, however many more cases probably occurred. The risk of acquiring psittacosis from a pet bird is very low.
- Bird owners should make sure that their physician is aware that they have contact with birds. Psittacosis should be considered in people with flu-like disease that have bird contact.
- Do not buy birds that look unhealthy (lethargy, nasal or eye discharge, ruffled feathers...).
- If you have other birds, isolate new birds for 30 days before allowing them to have contact with existing birds.
- Reduce aerosolization of materials when cleaning cages. Lightly wetting cage paper will reduce the risk of aerosolization.
- Wash your hands after handling birds or cleaning their cage.