Europe reported 5 deaths from Psittacosis, known as Parrot Fever: symptoms, prevention, and treatment.

European countries have reported 5 fatalities linked to psittacosis, commonly referred to as parrot fever. What exactly is this illness and what symptoms should one be aware of?

The World Health Organization said that Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands have reported – through the European Union’s Early Warning and Response System (EWRS) – an increase in psittacosis cases in 2023 and at the beginning of 2024, especially from November to December. 1st 2023. 5 deaths were also reported.

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The organization noted that most cases involved exposure to wild and/or domestic birds.

The World Health Organization stated that it is actively monitoring the situation and, after evaluating the available information, considers the risks associated with this event to be low.

What is psittacosis?

Psittacosis is a respiratory infection triggered by Chlamydophila psittaci, a bacterium commonly found in birds.

How does parrot fever infection occur?

Psittacosis in humans primarily stems from exposure to infected birds’ secretions, commonly affecting individuals working with pet birds, poultry, veterinarians, pet bird owners, and gardeners in regions where Chlamydia psittacosis is prevalent among domestic birds.

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Chlamydia psittacosis, a bacterium, is linked to over 450 bird species and has been detected in various mammal species like dogs, cats, horses, pigs, and reptiles.

Birds, particularly domestic ones such as parrots, finches, canaries, and pigeons, are commonly associated with transmitting psittacosis to humans.

Human transmission of the disease primarily happens through inhaling airborne particles from respiratory secretions, dried feces, or feather dust. Direct contact with birds is not required for infection to spread.

The incubation period

Symptoms typically manifest in infected individuals within 5 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria, a phase known as the incubation period. This period signifies the presence of the bacteria in the person’s system without visible symptoms.

Symptoms of parrot fever

People with psittacosis often develop the following:

In rare instances, an individual affected by psittacosis may experience the following symptoms:

Psittacosis seldom results in fatality, occurring in less than 1 out of 100 cases.

Who is at risk of infection  with parrot fever?

Those most vulnerable to psittacosis are bird owners, pet store employees, and individuals in high-risk occupations (such as poultry plant workers, veterinarians, lab technicians, and zoo staff). Mowing lawns and tending gardens have both been linked to psittacosis outbreaks.

Symptoms of parrot fever in birds

Birds may carry the infection without showing signs of illness, but the infection can also be fatal to the birds. Sick birds may show signs such as:

  • Diarrhea.
  • weakness.
  • Fluffy feathers.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Runny eyes or nose.

Psittacosis is a respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydia psittacosis.

Tips to prevent parrot fever

  • Purchase birds only from a pet store or licensed breeder.
  • Wash your hands with soap and running water for 10 seconds before and after handling pet birds, according to the New South Wales Department of Health website in Australia.
  • Avoid kissing pet birds (mouth-to-beak contact).
  • House birds in clean, large-sized cages that are lined with newspaper and changed frequently.
  • Do not allow droppings in cages to accumulate, dry out, or spread into the air.
  • Wear a P2 respirator and gloves.
  • Moisten bird droppings or cages before cleaning the box.
  • Wash your hands after cleaning the cage. Take sick birds to the vet as soon as possible.

The B2 respirator mask is a type of mask that blocks very small particles made by machines and heat. This is what makes them popular because they are good at stopping about 94% of all small particles in the air.

These masks also used in places such as hospitals to protect against viruses and other harmful germs in the air.

Parrot fever treatment

Psittacosis is treated with antibiotics for up to 2 weeks. It is important to take the full course of antibiotics, even if you feel better, in order to completely eliminate the bacteria from your body.

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