Swedish public health authorities, Folkhalsomyndigheten, is reporting (computer translated) an outbreak of psittacosis, or parrot disease, since November 2018.

Thick-billed Parrot Image/Ltshears
Thick-billed Parrot

According to officials, some 60 cases have been reported from the regions of Västra Götaland, Kalmar, Jönköping and Skåne. This is the highest number of cases reported in one winter in two decades.

Those who have now fallen ill have mainly come into contact with bird droppings from wild birds, for example through the handling of bird tables and other outdoor activities. A smaller number are believed to have been infected by domestic birds (parrots) in cages.

The most common way someone gets infected with the bacteria that cause psittacosis (Chlamydia psittaci) is by breathing in dust containing dried secretions (e.g., droppings, respiratory) from infected birds.

It is rare for psittacosis to spread from person to person.

In general, psittacosis causes mild illness in people. The most common symptoms include: Fever and chills, headache, muscle aches and dry cough.

Psittacosis can also cause pneumonia (a lung infection) that may require treatment or care in a hospital. Rarely, psittacosis can result in death.

Most people begin developing signs and symptoms of psittacosis within 5 to 14 days after exposure to the bacteria (C. psittaci). Occasionally, people report the start of symptoms after more than 14 days.