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Related to Ornithosis: Q fever


Any form of psittacosis originating in birds other than psittacines.



a disease of birds and man that is caused by viruses of the genus Chlamydia. Ornithoses, which belong to the zooanthroponosis group of diseases, were first described in 1875. The French scientist A. Morange named the disease psittacosis in 1895 (from Greek psittakos, “parrot”).

The causative agent of ornithosis is a virus discharged in the excrement and nasal mucus of birds. Humans may be infected by affected or carrier birds while caring for, slaughtering, or plucking the birds. Eating undercooked infected eggs may also cause infection. The infectious material is introduced into the mouth or the conjunctiva of the eye by contaminated hands. Infected dust may also enter the respiratory tract.

The incubation period of ornithosis is one to two weeks. The disease has an acute onset and proceeds with high temperatures lasting two to four weeks, headaches, muscle pains, and pneumonia (chest pains, dry cough). It is sometimes accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and constipation. These are also mild forms of ornithosis, in which the symptoms pass in a few days. Ornithosis does not result in stable immunity. Persons infected by the disease must be hospitalized. Ornithosis is treated with antibiotics and other medications.

Preventive measures include observing proper maintenance procedures on poultry farms, disinfecting, wearing special clothing when caring for poultry, observing the regulations governing the sale of products, controlling the pigeon population in cities, and prohibiting or restricting the importation of parrots.


Birds susceptible to ornithoses include chickens, ducks, geese, turkeys, pheasants, pigeons, canaries, and parrots. (In American terminology, ornithoses of parrots are called psittacoses.) The natural foci of the diseases are the gathering places of wild birds that live in colonies near water. Mostly young birds are affected.

The sources of the infectious agent are sick and recovered microbe-carrying birds. The infection proceeds through the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. Sick birds suffer from rhinitis and paralysis of the legs and wings; acute diarrhea is often a sympton. Diagnosis is based on epizootic testing, clinical symptoms, and laboratory tests. There is no specific treatment for the disease.

When poultry are affected with ornithosis, restrictions are placed upon the poultry farm. The importation, exportation, and regrouping of the birds are prohibited. Public health measures are taken that are directed toward preventing human infection.


Kazantsev, A. P. Ornitoz. Leningrad, 1973.
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