Feathered Eden Aviary


Signs and symptoms of Psittacosis (Chlamydiosis, Ornithosis)

Posted by Danielle on February 6, 2011 at 6:12 PM

Chlamydiosis is a zoonotic disease caused by the bacteriachlamydia. This is a reportable disease that can be found in someimported, aviary and pet store birds. Wild and domestic as well aspoultry are susceptible to chlamydiosis. Birds that can carry and orcontract the disease include parrots, canaries, chickens, ducks,turkeys and pigeons.

Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms are often stress induced. Being hidden until a stressfulevent such as travel, weaning or other illness weaken the birdsimmune system.

Symptoms present very similar to respiratory infection. Theseinclude:



severe and or sudden weightloss

breathing difficulties

lime greenfeces


conjunctivitis (this is a dead give away of thedisease)

Infected birds shed the bacteria in the fecal droppings and nasaldischarge. The bacteria remains contagious for quite sometime. It iscontracted by either inhaling the dust of droppings or ingestion ofdroppings.

Clamydiosis can be transmitted to humans in the same manner. Thisis why proper aviary management and bio security measures arecrucial.

Symptoms presented by humans is as follows:

sudden and/or severe fever


weakness and/orfatigue


muscle pain







abnormalintolerance to light

Though the disease can result in death, but fatal cases areextremely rare. Generally symptoms present like a mild case of theflu.

The CDC (Center for Disease Control) reports that between2000-2006 only 125 cases of Psittacosis were reported. In Canada itis reported to be below 1 in 100,000 cases.

My findings are that yes it is possible for human beings to becomeinfected with Psittacosis, however due to tighter governmentrestrictions, reporting protocol and proper aviary managementprocedures it is highly unlikely.

Proper Aviary Management and BioSecurity Procedures

In order to prevent the occurrence of avian Psittacosis in yourhome aviary, under 15 birds, hygiene is of utmost importance. Cagebottoms should be cleaned daily. Paper changed and trays washed inhot water with an effective anti-bacterial soap. Bleach, boilingwater, Lysol ect... are all effective means to kill the chlamydiabacteria. Cage bottoms, trays and bars should be disinfected weekly,as should toys and perches. Food and water dishes should besterilized and washed daily. Stainless steel dishes are best used inplace of plastic. In particular for water or wet soft foods.Newspaper is best used as a cage liner and where birds are paperchewers a grate is used effectively.

An air filtration unit is best used in rooms where birds are kept.Pay careful attention to purchase a HEPA filter or one that filtersout dust, as well as bacteria.

Avoid overcrowding in cages. Be sure to feed a healthy wellbalanced diet. Weigh birds at least once per week as a rapid decreasein normal body weight is often the first sign of illness. Know whatsymptoms to watch for, observe your birds and their droppings.

Wash your hands before and after handling and or feeding yourbirds. Use discretion as to whom is in contact with your birds. Avoidvisiting areas where other strange birds are frequently present withyour birds (ie. pet stores, bird fairs ect...).

When purchasing a new bird buy from an experienced well known orresearched breeder that maintains a closed aviary. Make sure toquarantine any new bird for minimum 30-45 days. This is best done ina separate floor of your home or another building where no birds arepresent. During quarantine be sure to weigh and observe the new birdfor any signs of illness. Get to know them. Again, be sure to washyour hands after handling, feeding and cleaning the new bird's area.Change your clothes or better yet have a specific smock (or lab coat)for handling the new bird. Always handle and feed your birds in theorder you received them (new birds last)!

If An Infection Occurs

If a test shows that one of your birds is infected relax.Antibiotic treatment has proven to be effective against the disease.Be sure to follow your vet's instructions to the letter. Usually yourbird(s) will be put on a course of antibiotics for 45 days. Thoughsymptoms will likely clear up soon, it is important to follow throughthe full coarse as relapse is common. Isolate the infected bird(s)from any others and completely disinfect the cages and cage area'swith a strong cleanser. This includes toys, perches, food and waterdishes ect... When cleaning be sure to wear thick rubber gloves and afacial mask. Follow this practice when handling infected birds aswell.


Let your doctor know that you have been in contact with aninfected bird and follow his/her reccomendations. Usually this willinclude blood work and close observation. Pay careful attention forthe symptoms listed above. Both your vet and your doctor will need toreport the details of infection to either the CDC (US) or HealthCanada. This is just as a precaution to help prevent an outbreak andfurther spread of this disease. Do not let this alarm you. Askquestions if you are unsure of something. If you do not understandwhat is being explained ask for clarification.

*Sources: Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety,CDC,The Merck Veterinary Manual Eighth Edition.*






Categories: None

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

Already a member? Sign In