Psittacosis – parrot fever


Psittacosis (sometimes called ornithosis or parrot disease or parrot fever) is an infection of the lung (pneumonia) caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila (Chlamydia). The bacterium is carried by wild and domestic birds, which often show no sign of disease.

People who have close contact with birds, such as parrot breeders pet shop employees, pet owners, poultry farm workers, abattoir workers and veterinarians (vets) and individuals who live near high density native bird populations are at increased risk.

Infection is generally caused by inhaling the dust from dried bird faeces or dry eye and nasal secretions from infected birds.

Symptoms of Psittacosis maybe associate with the flu and include:

  • fever and chills
  • nausea and vomiting
  • muscle and joint pain
  • diarrhoea
  • weakness
  • fatigue
  • cough, typically dry
  • abrupt onset of headache

Thankfully, the disease is uncommon in commercial poultry flocks. There has been reported cases in cattle ,sheep, horses, cats and dogs. If the infection in contracted treatment involves specific and effective antibiotic therapy.

References used for Psittacosis page

More information:

Centres for Disease Control (US)
Department of Health (Aust)
Victorian Health Department

Clinical care:

NSW Health
Victorian Health Department

Fast facts:


  • Psittacosis is a lung infection caused by a bacteria carried by birds.
  • Although all birds may carry this disease, it’s most common in budgies, parrots, parakeets and cockatiels. It is also found in poultry.
  • People become infected with psittacosis by inhaling secretions from infected birds. Psittacosis can be treated with antibiotics.
  • Wear masks and gloves while cleaning bird cages and poultry sheds to reduce the risk of infection.


Last updated: 3rd November, 2016