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This fact sheet answers frequently asked questions about Psittacosis.

Psittacosis is an illness caused by a bacteria called Chlamydia psittaci. Psittacosis spreads to people from infected birds. It is also known as parrot fever.

The basics

How is it spread?

It is usually spread by breathing in dried droppings (feces) from infected birds. It can also transmit by handling infected birds’ feathers or other body parts. Even brief exposure can lead to infection.

Although all birds are susceptible to psittacosis, pet birds and poultry are the types of birds that most often spread the disease to humans.

What should I do if I think I have psittacosis?

You should call your healthcare provider. A blood test is available to help diagnose psittacosis. Test results may take several weeks.

Because psittacosis is an infectious disease, health care providers are required by law to report cases to the local board of health. In Boston, providers report to the Boston Public Health Commission at 617-534-5611.


What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, weakness, and a dry cough. Some people may experience difficulty breathing. If left untreated, pneumonia and other serious complications can develop. People usually get sick 7-14 days after exposure.


Is psittacosis treatable?

The disease is treatable with antibiotics. Symptoms usually subside within 2-3 days. 

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