PSITTACOSIS(Parrot Fever; Ornithosis)
(Parrot Fever; Ornithosis)
DESCRIPTIONPsittacosis is an infectious form of pneumonia transmitted by birds. The lungs and other parts of the respiratory tract are involved.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMSFever and chills.
General ill feeling.
Loss of appetite.
Cough without sputum that progresses to cough with occasional discolored sputum.
Shortness of breath.
CAUSESInfection by the germ chlamydia. Microscopic chlamydia organisms are not bacteria, viruses, or fungi. However, they can be destroyed with antibiotics.
Psittacosis is found in psittacine birds (parrots, parakeets, lovebirds), poultry, pigeons, canaries, and some sea birds. Germs enter the human body by inhalation of air that contains the germ, or by a bite from an infected bird. Incubation is 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.
Exposure to birds, especially in zoos, in pet shops, or on farms.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCE
Your child should avoid dust from bird feathers and cage contents.
Your child should not handle any sick bird. Imported psittacine birds must be treated for 45 days with feed that contains chlortetracycline. This eliminates the organisms from the birds' blood and feces.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Laboratory blood studies and sputum culture.
X-rays of the lungs.
POSSIBLE COMPLICATIONSSevere or fatal pneumonia.
Usually curable in 7 to 14 days with early diagnosis and treatment. The child's fever may remain for 2 or 3 weeks before falling slowly, unless antibiotics are used.
Keep your child isolated to avoid transmitting the disease through cough droplets and sputum.
Use a cool-mist humidifier to increase air moisture around the child and loosen lung secretions. Use pure water; don't put medication in the humidifier.
Use a heating pad on the chest to relieve pain.
The patient should not smoke.
MEDICATIONYour doctor may prescribe tetracycline (an antibiotic) for at least 10 days to control the child's fever and other symptoms.
Don't suppress the child's cough if it produces sputum. It is performing a useful function in ridding the lungs of mucus. If the cough is non-productive and painful, you may suppress it with prescribed medication.
For minor pain, use non-prescription drugs such as aspirin or acetaminophen.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
Bed rest is necessary for your child until the fever, pain, and shortness of breath have been gone at least 48 hours. Then normal activities may be resumed gradually. Fatigue and weakness may persist for a long time, so don't expect a quick return to normal strength.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Your child should increase fluid intake to at least 1 glass of fluid every hour. This helps to thin lung secretions so they can be coughed up more easily.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?When signs of infection have decreased, appetite returns, and alertness, strength, and feeling of well-being will allow.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of psittacosis.
The following occurs during treatment:
-- Fever rises to 102F (38.9C) or higher.
-- Pain is not relieved by heat or prescribed medication.
-- Shortness of breath increases.
-- Fingernails become dark or bluish.
-- Blood appears in the sputum.
-- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea occur.