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“Outbreak of Parrot Fever in Europe: Five Deaths Reported”

Outbreak of Parrot Fever in Europe: Five Deaths Reported

An unusual and unexpected increase in cases of parrot fever, also known as psittacosis, has been reported in several European countries, resulting in five deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands have all experienced a surge in cases of this respiratory infection caused by the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci. While psittacosis primarily affects birds, it can also infect mammals, including humans.

Psittacosis is typically transmitted to humans through inhalation of airborne particles containing the bacteria. Close contact with infected birds, particularly pet birds like parrots, finches, or canaries, increases the risk of contracting the disease. People who work with birds, such as poultry workers, veterinarians, and pet-bird owners, are more susceptible to psittacosis. However, it is important to note that direct contact with birds is not always necessary for infection to occur.

The symptoms of psittacosis resemble those of the flu and usually manifest within five to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria. These symptoms include fever, chills, headache, and a dry cough. Fortunately, the disease can be effectively treated with antibiotics if diagnosed early. Antibiotics not only cure the infection but also help prevent serious complications such as pneumonia and inflammation of the heart. With appropriate treatment, the death rate of psittacosis can be reduced from 15-20% to just 1%.

The recent increase in psittacosis cases in Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands has raised concerns. Austria, which typically sees only two cases per year, reported 14 cases in 2023 and an additional four cases between January 1 and March 4, 2024. Denmark experienced a surge from its usual 15-30 cases annually to 23 cases in late 2023 and early 2024, resulting in four deaths. Germany recorded 19 cases in 2023 and early 2024, with 18 of them leading to pneumonia and hospitalization. The Netherlands saw twice as many cases between December 2023 and late February 2024 compared to previous years, with one fatality. Sweden also witnessed an increase in cases, although the numbers varied between November and December 2023 and January and February 2024.

The WHO has emphasized the need for further investigation to determine whether the rise in cases is due to an actual increase in the disease or improved surveillance and diagnostic techniques. Epidemiological investigations are underway in the affected countries to identify potential exposures and clusters of cases. Additionally, samples from wild birds are being analyzed for signs of Chlamydia psittaci infection.

Despite the concerning increase in cases, there is currently no evidence of human-to-human transmission of psittacosis within or between countries. The risk of transmission remains low. The WHO advises pet-bird owners to maintain clean cages, avoid overcrowding, and practice proper hand hygiene when handling their birds or cleaning their droppings. New birds should be quarantined upon arrival and taken to a veterinarian if they show signs of illness.

It is important to note that psittacosis can also affect birds, causing symptoms such as poor appetite, a ruffled appearance, and eye or nose discharge. Different bird species have varying death rates, with parrots experiencing rates of 50% or higher.

While the outbreak of parrot fever in Europe is a cause for concern, it is crucial to stay informed and take necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease. By following proper hygiene practices and seeking timely medical attention, the risk of contracting psittacosis can be minimized.

Please note that this article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical advice. If you have any concerns or questions about psittacosis or any other health-related issues, it is recommended to consult a healthcare professional.


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