Skip to main content
King County logo
Psittacosis (also known as parrot fever, avian chlamydiosis, or ornithosis) is caused by inhalation of the desiccated droppings, secretions, or dust from the feathers of birds infected with the bacterium Chlamydia psittaci. Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, chills, and in some cases pneumonia. Some persons experience mild flu-like illness, and some show no symptoms at all. Psittacine birds such as parrots, parakeets, and cockatiels are the most common reservoir, but infection may also occur in other wild or pet birds. Birds may be symptomatic, particularly if stressed, but healthy-appearing birds can also carry the organism.

Resources for the general public

Resources for health care professionals

Psittacosis in King County

Purpose of surveillance:

  • To identify sources of infected birds associated with human infections
  • To facilitate appropriate diagnostic testing and treatment for infected persons
  • To implement control measures for contaminated areas and management of infected birds to decrease risk to humans

Local epidemiology:

  • The last reported human case of psittacosis in King County occurred in 1998. In Washington state between zero and four cases of psittacosis are reported each year.