Psittacosis Disease

Published Date : Apr 2024
Category : Infectious Diseases
Delivery Timeline : 48 hrs
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Understanding, the Diagnosis, Treatment, and Insights on Psittacosis

In February 2024, Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands reported a surge in psittacosis cases observed throughout 2023 and early 2024, particularly pronounced since November-December 2023. Additionally, five deaths were reported. Most cases reported exposure to wild and domestic birds. Psittacosis, caused by Chlamydophila psittaci (C. psittaci), is a respiratory infection commonly affecting birds. Human infections typically occur through contact with secretions from infected birds and are commonly associated with individuals working with pet birds, poultry workers, veterinarians, pet bird owners, and gardeners in areas with a high prevalence of C. psittaci in native bird populations. The affected countries have initiated epidemiological investigations to identify potential exposures and clusters of cases. Measures include analyzing samples from wild birds submitted for avian influenza testing to ascertain the prevalence of C. psittaci among wild birds. The World Health Organization continues to monitor the situation and based on current information, assesses the risk posed by this event as low.


In Austria, there has been a notable increase in confirmed cases of psittacosis, with 14 cases reported in 2023 and an additional four cases reported in early 2024. None of the cases reported travel abroad, and exposure to wild birds has not been identified as a source of infection. Diagnostic procedures, including reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), remain unchanged.


Denmark has experienced a significant rise in psittacosis cases, with 23 individuals testing positive for C. psittaci by RT-PCR as of February 27, 2024. Most cases were reported in the North Denmark, Zealand, and Capital regions. Epidemiological investigations have linked several cases to contact with wild birds, particularly through bird feeders. The National Health Institute suspects airborne transmission from dried bird droppings as a primary mode of infection.


Germany has reported an increase in confirmed psittacosis cases, with five cases in December 2023 and an additional five cases in early 2024. While exposure to wild birds was not reported, a minority of cases had contact with domesticated birds. Diagnostic procedures and reporting practices have remained consistent.


Sweden observed a surge in psittacosis cases in late 2023, followed by a decrease in early 2024. Cases were concentrated in the southern regions, with many individuals exposed to droppings from small birds, primarily via feeders. Changes in diagnostic practices may have contributed to the increase in reported cases.

The Netherlands:

The Netherlands has seen an increase in confirmed psittacosis cases since late 2023, with 21 cases reported by February 29, 2024. Geographically dispersed cases have been reported, with varying levels of contact with wild and domestic birds. Diagnostic procedures have remained stable, with RT-PCR being the primary testing method.

Overall, these countries have implemented epidemiological investigations to identify sources of infection and address the rising number of psittacosis cases. Efforts are underway to examine the prevalence of C. psittaci among wild birds and improve surveillance and control measures.


Psittacosis, caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci, is a zoonotic disease primarily associated with individuals in close contact with birds. This includes pet bird owners, poultry workers, veterinarians, and gardeners in regions where C. psittaci is prevalent among native bird populations.

  1. psittaci can be found in a wide range of avian species, as well as some mammalian species like dogs, cats, and horses. However, human infections are most linked to contact with pet birds such as parrots, finches, canaries, and pigeons. Transmission to humans occurs primarily through inhalation of airborne particles containing the bacterium, often from respiratory secretions, dried feces, or feather dust.

Typically, psittacosis presents as a mild illness characterized by symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and dry cough. The onset of symptoms usually occurs within 5 to 14 days following exposure to the bacteria. Prompt administration of antibiotics effectively treats the infection and helps prevent complications like pneumonia. With timely treatment, fatalities from psittacosis are rare, occurring in less than 1% of cases. Diagnosing psittacosis can pose challenges due to the variety of methods available and the limited availability of certain tests. Laboratories typically employ multiple techniques to detect Chlamydia psittaci infection, including culture, serology, and nucleic acid amplification methods. Occasionally, detection may also be achieved through alternative methods like metagenomic sequencing.


The table below outlines the advantages and disadvantages of different diagnostic methods for psittacosis. It's important to note that specialized laboratories may offer specific tests, and some facilities may only conduct testing on animal specimens.

The advantages and disadvantages of select diagnostic methods for detecting Chlamydia psittaci infection:





The procedure aims to obtain a clinical isolate from the patient's sample for subsequent analysis, including genotyping, antimicrobial susceptibility testing, and next-generation sequencing (NGS).

Time-consuming: It may take several weeks to yield results.

Technical complexity: The procedure requires specialized expertise.

Requires cultivation: The pathogen must be cultivated within a tissue culture, mouse, or chick embryo.

Limited availability: This test is not widely available in clinical laboratories.

Serology (e.g., complement fixation, micro immunofluorescent antibody test)

Tests using this method are accessible in many clinical laboratories.

While this method has its limitations, such as the potential for cross-reactivity with other Chlamydia species and the need for acute and convalescent samples, it still serves as a valuable tool in confirming C. psittaci infections.

Nucleic acid amplification techniques (e.g., real-time PCR

Rapid detection

High sensitivity and specificity

Provides results in time for a treatment decision.

Useful for strain typing

Requires specialized reagents and equipment.

Test not widely available in clinical laboratories.


The below table depicts the diagnostic kit market players and their product offerings –

Market Players

Diagnostic Technique

Abbott Laboratories


Bio-Rad Laboratories


Roche Diagnostics

Thermo Fisher Scientific

Abbott Laboratories

Bio-Rad Laboratories


Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques (NAATs)

Roche Diagnostics

BioFire Diagnostics

Abbott Laboratories



Treatment -

Chlamydia psittaci infections are effectively treated with both macrolides and tetracyclines, with tetracyclines being the preferred choice unless there are contraindications due to documented macrolide failures. While macrolides are generally preferred for children, tetracyclines may be considered in certain situations where the benefits outweigh the risks, such as in life-threatening conditions or when macrolide treatment is ineffective.

Given the challenges in diagnosing psittacosis, clinicians should be mindful that prompt administration of appropriate antibiotic therapy leads to rapid recovery. In cases where psittacosis is suspected, individuals with more severe symptoms should receive immediate treatment with doxycycline.

The below table enlists the manufacturers of antibiotic therapy -

Market Players

Antibiotic Therapy

Pfizer Inc.


Teva Pharmaceuticals

Mylan Pharmaceuticals

Sandoz Inc.

Dr. Reddy's Laboratories

Lupin Pharmaceuticals

Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.

Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer Inc.


Teva Pharmaceuticals

Mylan Pharmaceuticals

Sandoz Inc.

Abbott Laboratories

Aurobindo Pharma Ltd.

Glenmark Pharmaceuticals



Isolation of patients and prophylaxis for contacts are typically unnecessary, as transmission of C. psittaci from person to person is uncommon.

In many jurisdictions, healthcare providers are mandated to report cases of psittacosis to the relevant public health agencies. Early diagnosis and timely reporting play a crucial role in pinpointing the origin of the infection and implementing measures to contain its spread.

Clinical Trials -

Phase II

Official Title-

Phase IIa Prospective Study to Evaluate the Safety and Measure Efficacy of Anti-chlamydophila Antibiotic Combination (ACAC) Therapy Comprising 100mg Doxycycline, 500mg Azithromycin and 300mg Rifabutin in the Treatment of Patients with Coronary Heart Disease (CHD)

Status -



Conclusion -

This in-depth exploration of psittacosis sheds light on various facets of this infectious respiratory disease. DLI focuses on the microbial agents involved, modes of transmission, clinical manifestations, and available therapeutic modalities. DLI conducts a thorough analysis of current treatment options, highlighting both promising strategies and existing challenges in managing psittacosis.

Furthermore, DLI offers strategic guidance to clients to ensure regulatory compliance across multiple domains, including devising innovative product development strategies, engaging with key stakeholders, and employing clinical expertise for evidence-based interventions.

DLI's services streamline the execution of clinical trials for novel medications and therapies, as well as facilitate tasks such as patient recruitment and adherence to regulatory standards. Additionally, DLI provides industry stakeholders with comprehensive insights into global regulations, market dynamics, and competitive landscapes in the field of psittacosis management.

Vishal SawantBusiness Development

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