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DEM Confirms Presence of Bacterial Infection in Flock of Psittacine Birds in Pawtucket

Birds from This Flock were Sold to Pet Shops in North Kingstown and Narragansett

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management has confirmed the presence of a disease known as psittacosis in a privately-owned flock of psittacine birds in Pawtucket. Psittacine birds are parrots and parrot-like birds such as parakeets, cockatiels, and love birds. The attending veterinarian noted unusual illness and mortality in this flock and notified the RI State Veterinarian, Dr Scott Marshall. DEM submitted specimens from this flock for necropsy and testing for the presence of infectious diseases and those specimens were confirmed to be infected with psittacosis.

Birds from this flock were sold to pet shops where they may have exposed other birds to the disease. DEM is concerned that people may have purchased diseased or exposed birds from these pet shops. The pet shops are not the source of the disease but may have sold birds from the flock that is the source of the disease. The pet shops are two locations of Critter Hut Aquarium and Pets, one located at 6637 Post Road, North Kingstown and the other located at 91 Point Judith Road, Narragansett. All susceptible birds at those stores and the source flock have been isolated and are undergoing testing and treatment. These facilities have been cleaned and disinfected and do not represent an ongoing animal health or public health risk.

Psittacosis is a bacterial infection that most commonly infects psittacine birds such as parakeets, cockatiels, and love birds. Other types of birds can become infected with psittacosis, but it is much less common in other birds.

Psittacosis can infect people. Therefore, people who have had contact with an infected bird could possibly contract the disease. Psittacosis can be cured in people or birds if they are infected. Antibiotics are used for treatment of infected people or birds. Most people who are properly treated make a full recovery; however, people with compromised immune systems or other health problems may be at greater risk.

The RI Department of Health is asking that anyone with an illness that has purchased a psittacine bird from one of the Critter Hut locations on or after February 1, 2013, please contact them at (401) 222-2577 for evaluation. DEM is asking that anyone who purchased a psittacine bird from one of the Critter Hut locations on or after February 1, 2013 contact their veterinarian for guidance on testing and treatment of their bird. The Rhode Island Veterinary Medical Association (RIVMA) can help owners find a veterinarian if they do not have one. The RIVMA can be contacted at (401) 751-0944. DEM is also asking that anyone who purchased a psittacine bird from one of the Critter Hut locations on or after February 1, 2013 contact the RI State Veterinarian if their bird is showing any sign of illness.

HEALTH and DEM want to stress that this disease is generally very responsive to treatment when it is properly diagnosed and treated. Therefore, rapid identification of infection is essential, and people should contact HEALTH at 222-2577 or RI State Veterinarian Scott Marshall, DVM at DEM at 222-4700 ext. 4503 if they suspect a related illness in either people or birds.

Related links

Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management

Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/

Release date: 06-10-2013

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