10 sickened: Multiple human-to-human transmission from a severe case of psittacosis, Sweden, January – February 2013

You see a cute bird, I see a microbiological horror show.

UnknownWallensten et al. describe in Eurosurveillance, Volume 19, Issue 42, that  proven transmission of Chlamydia psittaci between humans has been described on only one occasion previously.

We describe an outbreak which occurred in Sweden in early 2013, where the epidemiological and serological investigation suggests that one patient, severely ill with psittacosis after exposure to wild bird droppings, transmitted the disease to ten others: Two family members, one hospital roommate and seven hospital caregivers. Three cases also provided respiratory samples that could be analysed by PCR. All the obtained C. psittaci sequences were indistinguishable and clustered within genotype A.

The finding has implications for the management of severely ill patients with atypical pneumonia, because these patients may be more contagious than was previously thought. In order to prevent nosocomial person-to-person transmission of C. psittaci, stricter hygiene measures may need to be applied.