Chlamydophilosis is a bacterial infection that can range from subclinical through to acute or chronic disease states. It is characterised by respiratory, digestive or systemic infection. Chlamydiosis can infect a wide variety of bird species, including turkeys, pigeons, ducks, psittacines (such as parrots), although chickens are not commonly affected. Chlamydophilosis can affect other animal species and is a zoonosis (can be transmitted to humans). Symptoms in birds include fever, discharges from the nostrils and eyes, green to yellow-green droppings, conjunctivitis, sinusitis, inactivity, ruffled feathers, weakness, loss of appetite and weight loss. The disease in humans is usually respiratory and characterised by rapid onset of flu-like symptoms; pneumonia, organ failure, and death can result if the disease is severe or left untreated.
Chlamydophilosis is caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci. This bacterium can only multiply within cells. Spread is primarily through inhalation of faecal dust. Recovered birds remain carriers and continue to shed the organism for up to 42 days after symptoms subside. The same strain of the bacterium may cause mild disease or asymptomatic infection in one species, but severe or fatal disease in another species. The disease is not egg transmitted.
No effective vaccine for use in birds is available. Treatment with tetracycline antibiotics will prevent mortality and shedding but cannot be relied on to eliminate latent infection and so shedding may recur. Treatment of infected flocks with tetracyclines a minimum of two weeks prior to slaughter effectively eliminates risk to processing workers. Effective biosecurity procedures are an important factor in preventing infections from occurring. The bacterium can survive in dried faeces for many months but susceptible to heat and most disinfectants but is resistant to acid and alkali.
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