The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV) recently published recommendations regarding control of Chlamydo-phila psittaci (formerly known as Chlamydia psittaci) infection. In humans, infection with C psittaci is referred to as psittacosis, parrot fever, or ornithosis. Psittacosis is a nationally reportable disease. From 2005 to 2009, 66 human cases were reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which likely underrepresents the actual number of human cases since mild cases may have gone unreported and confirmation of diagnosis may be
difficult. In birds, C psittaci infection is referred to as avian chlamydiosis. People are most commonly infected after exposure to pet birds. These are usually cockatiels, parakeets, parrots, and macaws, although other birds including pigeons and poultry can be involved with the spread of infection. The organism is shed in the feces and nasal discharges of the birds. C psittaci is environmentally labile but because it is protected by organic debris such as feces, it can survive for months. Birds can appear healthy but shed the organism intermittently. The compendium stresses the roles of the pet owners, physicians, and veterinarians in the diagnosis and management of this zoonotic disease.
Commentary: This compendium represents the most recent synopsis of chlamydiosis/psittacosis control recommendations from the NASPHV, the organization of veterinarians working for state health departments in zoonotic disease control and prevention. This report is targeted at veterinarians as well as human health workers and examines the important clinical and diagnostic aspects of C psittaci infection in birds as well as humans. It includes a comprehensive review of potential clinical signs (often nonspecific in birds), diagnostic options, and treatment recommendations. It is a useful educational tool for veterinarians looking for information to educate pet owners. Clear, easy to understand discussion of case definitions (ie, confirmed, probable, suspect) may help clinicians work up their cases and explain to owners the implications of a diagnosis. The tables, appendices, and references are valuable go-to resources for testing information, treatment options, and educational literature.—Dominique Keller, DVM, PhD
Compendium of measures to control Chlamydophila psittaci infection among humans (psittacosis) and pet birds (avian chlamydiosis), 2010 National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians (NASPHV). Smith KA, Campbell CT, Murphy J, et al. J EXOTIC PET MED 20:32-45, 2011.