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Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis, Ornithosis)

By: Dr. Branson Ritchie

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Optimal treatment for your companion bird requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up can be critical, especially if your bird does not rapidly improve. Follow-up care consists of the following:

  • Make certain you administer all prescribed medications at the appropriate times. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you are having difficulties treating your bird as prescribed. If you are having problems, it may be best to hospitalize your bird to assure that a proper course of treatment is administered.

  • Keep your bird isolated from other birds to prevent transmission.

  • Wear a dust mask when handling the waste of your infected bird. To reduce dust, use a misting bottle filled with disinfectant to moisten excrement and feather debris before handling.

  • If your bird is diagnosed with chlamydia and you or any family members have flu-like symptoms, have your physician talk directly with your veterinarian.

  • The clinical changes associated with chlamydiosis should improve dramatically within 12 to 24 hours after starting doxycycline therapy. If your bird does not respond within this time period, you should contact your veterinarian.

  • Some birds will regurgitate or have discolored excrement when given the oral form of doxycycline. If your bird is regurgitating, contact your veterinarian.

  • Birds that recover from chlamydiosis are subject to reinfection. Thorough cleaning and disinfection of the contaminated environment is necessary to reduce the chance of reinfection. Thus, birds being treated for chlamydia should be maintained in an isolated area that is easy to clean and disinfect.

  • Chlamydia can be inactivated with household bleach, isopropyl alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds or chlorophenols.

  • If you are a bird breeder, ask your veterinarian about starting a chlamydial screening program for your aviary. To find an avian veterinarian in your area who can test for chlamydia, contact the Infectious Disease Laboratory at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine (706-542-8092).


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