Chlamydophila psittaci

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor-In-Chief: Mohammed A. Sbeih, M.D. [2]Omodamola Aje B.Sc, M.D. [3]

Chlamydophila psittaci
Direct fluorescent antibody stain of a mouse brain impression smear showing C. psittaci.
Direct fluorescent antibody stain of a mouse brain impression smear showing C. psittaci.
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Phylum: Chlamydiae
Order: Chlamydiales
Family: Chlamydiaceae
Genus: Chlamydophila
Species: C. psittaci

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Psittacosis is caused by the organism Chlamydia psittaci. Chlamydia is understood to be a Gram-negative bacterium belonging to the genus Chlamydia or Chlamydophila in the family of Chlamydiaceae together with Parachlamydiaceae, Waddliaceae and Simkaniaceae in the order Chlamydiales, class and phylum Chlamydiae. Chlamydiales are obligate intracellular infectious agents in eukaryotic cells characterized by a unique developmental replication cycle.[1]


Birds are the major zoonotic reservoir. Despite its name, C. psittaci infection has been documented in 467 species from 30 bird orders, from psittaformes to ostriches to penguins have all been found to be associated with the development of psittacosis[2]. Bird handlers and those who keep birds as pets have a higher prevalence of the disease. C. psittaci may be classified into eight serovars according to variation in the major outer membrane protein (MOMP): serovar A to F, WC and M56.[3]. With recent advances in molecular diagnostic techniques,

Table 1: Classification of Chlamydophila psittaci into 8 serovars.[4]

Serovar Genotype Predominant host order Human infection documented
A A Psittaformes:
  • Budgerigars
  • Cockatiels
  • Parakeets
B B Columbiformes:
  • Pigeons
  • Doves
C C Anseriformes:
  • Ducks
  • Geese
  • Swans
D D Galliformes:
  • Turkeys
  • Pheasants
  • Chickens
E E Struthioniformes:
  • Ostriches
  • Pigeons
  • Duck
F F Isolated from single parakeet and turkey only Yes
WC G Cattle No
M56 H Rodents No
E/B Ducks Yes


  1. de Rossi G, Focacci C (1979). "Early detection of craniosynostosis by 99mTc-pyrophosphate bone scanning.". Radiol Diagn (Berl). 20 (3): 405–9. PMID 229510. 
  2. Beeckman, D.S.A.; Vanrompay, D.C.G. (2009). "Zoonotic Chlamydophila psittaci infections from a clinical perspective". Clinical Microbiology and Infection. 15 (1): 11–17. ISSN 1198-743X. doi:10.1111/j.1469-0691.2008.02669.x. 
  3. Vanrompay D, Butaye P, Sayada C, Ducatelle R, Haesebrouck F (1997). "Characterization of avian Chlamydia psittaci strains using omp1 restriction mapping and serovar-specific monoclonal antibodies.". Res Microbiol. 148 (4): 327–33. PMID 9765811. doi:10.1016/S0923-2508(97)81588-4. 
  4. Balter S, Janower ML (1975). "The use of photochromic eyeglasses by radiologists.". Radiology. 116 (02): 450. PMID 1153750. doi:10.1148/116.2.450.