Psittacosis is a notifiable condition. Patient isolation is usually not required as human-to-human transmission is rare.
Pneumonia due to Chlamydia psittaci cannot be clinically differentiated from other community-acquired, atypical pneumonias. Molecular testing and/or serology is required to confirm the diagnosis.
Tetracycline antibiotics are the preferred treatment; however, other antibiotics may be used as an alternative in select patients.
Patients generally respond well to antibiotics, with resolution of symptoms within 24 to 48 hours, although there is the potential for relapse from persistent infection.
Infection caused by the obligate, intracellular, gram-negative bacterium Chlamydia psittaci (formerly known as Chlamydophila psittaci), which causes community-acquired, atypical pneumonia or conjunctivitis. It is predominantly a pathogen of birds and mammals; humans are an accidental host. Exposure to infected birds is a common cause. Also known as parrot fever or ornithosis.
History and exam
Key diagnostic factors
- presence of risk factors
- illness in other family members
Other diagnostic factors
- sore throat
- exposure to infected birds and mammals
- young children
- older adults
1st investigations to order
- white blood cell count with differential
- liver function tests
- polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
- chest x-ray
Investigations to consider
children ≥8 years of age and non-pregnant adults
children <8 years and pregnant women
- Atypical pneumonia caused by other pathogens
- Infective endocarditis
- Compendium of measures to control Chlamydia psittaci infection among humans (psittacosis) and pet birds (avian chlamydiosis)
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