Health Officials Investigating Outbreak of Psittacosis at Poultry Plants

Source: radututa - 123RF

The Virginia and Georgia departments of health are investigating a multistate outbreak of psittacosis occurring at two poultry slaughter plants owned by a single corporation.

According to the CDC, the cases occurred during August and September of this year. Chlamydia psittaci, the type of bacteria that causes psittacosis, was detected by a laboratory test in 10 people. Additional illnesses in workers at the two plants have been identified, although have not been confirmed by the laboratory.

No deaths have been reported.

Investigators are still working to understand why the outbreak occurred. The affected plants in Virginia and Georgia voluntarily suspended operations for cleaning.

Public health officials are investigating whether other people exposed to chickens, such as farmers and truck drivers, that were shipped to the affected plants got sick.

Psittacosis usually causes mild illness in people, with its most common symptoms including fever and chills, headache, muscle aches, and a dry cough. But it can cause pneumonia, and, in rare cases, death.

According to the CDC, there is no evidence that these bacteria can spread by preparing or eating chicken meat.

It is rare for psittacosis to spread from person to person. In this outbreak, infection among family members who are not workers at the affected plants has not been reported.