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Psittacosis is caused by a bacteria which infects* birds, specifically pet birds like parrots, cockatiels, and poultry (ducks or turkeys). Even though it is less common, psittacosis can be transmitted from bird to human.


How can I get sick? 

  • Direct contact with infected* bird poop or dried secretions.  
  • Birds can infect humans through a bite or mouth to beak contact (less common). 

Symptoms in humans:  

  • Fever (when your body gets a little hotter than normal)  

  • Chills (feeling of being cold and shivering) 
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain 
  • Dry cough 

Symptoms in birds:  

Infected birds will not always show signs of illness, but some may have the following: 

  • Not feeling hungry 
  • Inflamed eyes 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Diarrhea (runny poop) 

What can I do to stay healthy? 

  • Make sure to buy pet birds from safe or well-known pet stores.  
  • Keep bird cages clean. Have clean food and water daily. 
  • Avoid over-crowding of birds. 
  • If you have a bird that shows signs of illness, separate the bird from healthy birds, and treat the infected* bird. 
  • When cleaning cages make sure to protect yourself by wearing gloves and a mask. 

  • Avoid stirring up dust with infected* poop by wetting the surface before cleaning.
  • When handling birds or cleaning cages always properly wash your hands.
    •  Proper Handwashing – Wash your hands with soap and running water for at least 20 seconds. Make sure to scrub your thumbs, between your fingers and the tops and bottoms of your hands. Dry your hands with a paper towel.


  • Infected: When germs get inside of a body, animal, or an organism.  

Species Affected

Learn About Other Diseases

Click below to learn more about the many different diseases that can spread between animals and humans.