Pstittacosis is a potentially fatal bacterial disease that is often found in the feces of birds such as parrots, macaws, cockatiels and budgies, but can be found in many other birds such as pigeons, sparrows, ducks, chickens and gulls. The bacteria is very persistent in the environment and can infect another bird, or a human, months after it exits the body of an infected bird. Direct transmission is rare, and people with the disease are not contagious.
Symptoms occur 5-14 days after exposure, and increase in severity with the progression of the disease. Coma and death are likely if the disease is not treated. The disease can be just as fatal to birds as it is to humans, but is more likely to affect birds. It is found in all large populations of the birds the disease affects.
Luckily, the disease is rare in humans. Common hygiene practices should be followed by anyone who comes in contact with birds or bird feces on a regular basis, such as washing hands after handling birds and using respirators in environments where feces are common. The highest risk groups among humans are bird owners, pet shop owners, veterinarians and poultry workers.