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Gastrointestinal & Zoonoses

Chlamydia Psittaci

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Epidemiology

Psittacosis (also called Ornithosis) occurs due to infection with Chlamydophila psittaci , which is found most commonly in birds such as cockatiels, parrots and lovebirds as well as other bird species such as ducks, turkeys and pigeons, and less commonly in sheep. Cases are rare in the UK, but occur most commonly in those exposed occupationally to birds or in owners of pet birds. In addition, Chlamydophila is one of the major causes of infectious abortion in sheep in the UK and people involved with sheep flocks at lambing time are at increased risk of exposure.

Main clinical features

Onset may be insidious or rapid, with fever, headache and general malaise followed within a few days by a cough and, in some cases, pneumonia. Infection with sheep-associated strains during pregnancy may result in late abortion, neonatal death and severe septic shock in the mother.

Incubation period

Usually 5 – 15 days after exposure, but can be as long as 4 weeks.

Surveillance

Voluntary laboratory reports.

Annual Surveillance Tables