Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Plus valet in manibus avis unica quam dupla silvis...

Yep! Blogging time again...and I left you with a yellow bird in my hand.
Beautiful yellow parrot with a red beak. She was brought in a small bird cage with a history of greenish stools,lethargy and inappetance episodes and for having been bitten by a parrot before, I politely asked the owner to take her out. Hah! he seems to have had quite a few painful experiences too, since he had a thick leather glove ready for that! Yeah,Parrots do bite... and they really go for it. We often forget that the beak of a parrot is used to break open hard-shelled nuts and is also used as a grip to move around.
So, owner manages to get the bird our after 3 mins and I start the examination; no nasal discharges;eyes clear and sparkly; brooding patch(bald patch under belly) normal; temperature slightly higher than normal. Gave the bird some time to calm down and noted that the respiratory rate was normal.
Why I always assess parrots and birds in general for these parameters? Because,as every veterinarian, I have my "Pet-Bug" for birds! People! Do not laugh! This is real and "affects" all medical professionals! Lol! Every doctor is biased in some way by a disease that he/she has been exposed (either seen or read)to recently or a pathology that has left a deep impression on him/her...and that becomes the "Favourite Pet-Bug"! So, when I examine parrots, I always look for signs of Chlamydophila psittaci. I have seen cases in my student days and know of at least one person who died from that disease...contracted from parrots in a pet shop! Uuuh! Did I tell you that humans can get infected too? No? Well now you know! It is zoonotic!The disease is called Chlamydiasis in birds and Psitaccosis in mammals(i.e you)
Chlamydophila is one of these bacteria that have evovled with the body's defense mechanism and can now inactivate the latter and proliferate. C.psittaci is transmitted through the air and is inhaled. In the lungs, it is absorbed by the cells, in an attempt to isolate them in a pouch full of "corrosive" enzymes and digest them. But instead of being killed they inactivate the enzymes and hijack the power supply of the cells to start replicating.In the end, the cell is just a Chlamydial bombshell ready to explode and infect other cells or go out in the faeces, nasal and eye discharges to infect other animals.
Sounds like an alien or special ops movie huh? But that is what Chlamydophila does...that is why it is so deadly...and maybe that is why it is my "pet-bug".
Did I hear someone say: "What are the symptoms in humans"? Ok for all you shivering and sweating bird-keepers out there...if you have a proper hygienic way of life; if you are not immunosuppressed;if you got your bird from a reliable source, you have very faint chances of developing psittacosis. Symptoms are as for the birds: Fever, lethargy, headache, coughing...flu-like symptoms that may develop into full-fledge pneumonia.
Treatment is simple and involves at least 2 weeks antibiotics of the Tetracycline family. Birdie gets a shot in the leg muscles and goes home with tablets for 14 days with all the precautionary warnings for the owner.
For those who were too lazy to go look up the Latin quote i used as title, it says: "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush"...
My take on this is..."A bird in the hand and Info in the head beats any Chlamydophila in your lungs"..
Hope i tickled your brain enough for you to go look up more on this zoonotic disease now.

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