Health Tip: Polly Want an Illness?

Parrots can transmit disease to people

(HealthDayNews) -- If you got a pet bird as a holiday gift, the Mayo Clinic wants you to be aware of an illness you can get from birds: parrot fever.

Psittacosis, as it's formally known, is a bacterial disease that affects more than 100 species of wild and domestic birds, including parrots, macaws, cockatiels and parakeets. Though some birds with psittacosis don't display any signs or symptoms, others lose feathers or change their eating habits.

In people, psittacosis symptoms include cough, chest pain, fever, chills, headache and muscle pain.

You can catch the infection through contact with bird feces or with the dust that accumulates in birdcages. Psittacosis also is transmitted by bird bites, holding your bird or touching your mouth to your bird's beak.

The disease is treated with antibiotics. To prevent parrot fever, regularly rinse and refill your bird's water and food dishes, and clean the cage daily.

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