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Boundless Budgies parakeet aviary is temporarily closed
Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Veterinary Team continues to monitor flock following confirmation of one instance of psittacosis 
 
As a precautionary measure, the Boundless Budgies parakeet aviary has been temporarily closed. A histopathology report from a deceased parakeet has indicated the presence of psittacosis, a bacterial infection that can cause respiratory problems in birds and humans. This is the first known instance of this disease in the parakeet collection at Zoo Atlanta. 
 
Psittacosis, also known as parrot fever or ornithosis, primarily affects parrots, parakeets, macaws,lovebirds and cockatoos. 
 
The parakeet collection is treated with antibiotics once a year in an effort to reduce the likelihood of birds contracting the disease, which can appear with no identifiable exposure or risk factor. Over the next several weeks, the Veterinary Team will pursue flock testing and observation and will decontaminate the aviary before the venue will be reopened to the public. 
 
The exhibit is being closed because psittacosis may be transmitted to humans through direct handling of infected birds or inhalation of bacteria from bird feces or organic debris. Symptoms in humans are generally mild and may include fever, headache, rash, muscle aches, chills, and upper or lower respiratory tract infections. 
 
Despite the prevalence of pet birds, in a four-year period from 2005 through 2009, only 66 human cases of psittacosis were reported by the CDC. These cases generally occur after exposure to pet birds, usually cockatiels, parakeets, parrots and macaws. 
 
“We routinely conduct necropsies so that we can be as proactive as possible about detecting the presence of disease in our collection, and this is the first example of psittacosis in these parakeets that we have seen at Zoo Atlanta,” said Hayley Murphy, DVM, Director of Veterinary Services. “The Veterinary Team is taking every appropriate action to test and treat the parakeet flock. We continue to proactively monitor any circumstance which would affect our animal collection or our guests.”