Psittacosis, often called parrot fever, is caused by the bacteria Chlamydophila psittaci (formally Chlamydia psittaci). Wild and domestic birds are the natural reservoirs of this agent. Cattle, sheep, goats, and cats can also become infected with a mammalian strain and develop severe debilitating disease. Large outbreaks of psittacosis in humans have been associated with infected feces and respiratory excretions from domestic poultry flocks.
Psittacosis in humans is generally acquired through inhalation and causes a respiratory disease. Signs and symptoms include fever, nonproductive cough, headache, and malaise. More severe illness may result in pericarditis, myocarditis, endocarditis, hepatitis, and encephalopathy. The incubation period is 7 to 14 days and symptoms persist for 7 to 10 days. Pregnant women exposed to infected sheep have been reported to have severe illness and suffer miscarriages. Less than 50 cases per year are reported in the United States. The disease can be treated with antibiotics.
No cases of psittacosis were reported in Indiana in 2002, and only three cases were reported during the five-year period 1998-2002.
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