Zoonotic Diseases

Diseases discussed here have a history of use as an agent for biological warfare, either in the U.S. or abroad. Its use may have been experimental or actual, and any detrimental consequences upon humans, animals or the environment may have been intentional or not, depending on the circumstances, the point in time, and the nature of the disease.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Chlamydia Psittaci as a Biological Weapons Agent
Psittacosis is labeled by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) as a Category B biological weapons agent. The weapon can attack the poultry industry, and also human populations in aerosolized form. The United States biological weapons program based in Fort Detrick studied psittacosis as a possible incapacitating agent from World War II through the 1960s. Staring in 1949, outdoor field testing of psittacosis as a possible aerosolized agent began at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The Soviet Union also studied psittacosis in their biological weapons program Biopreparat.

A ProMED-mail post

ProMED-mail is a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases

Date: Sun 4 Jul 2010
Source: Jujuy al Dia [in Spanish, machine trans., edited]

Activities are continuing towards preventing the spread of
psittacosis, a disease transmitted by birds, which already caused a
possible death and 4 confirmed cases in the province of Jujuy.
Another 9 cases are under investigation.

The director of Epidemiology of the Ministry of Health in Jujuy,
Adolfo Martinez, said a committee was created to address the
situation and to provide guidance to health care practitioners to
correctly diagnose the disease. An alert was issued and distributed
to all hospitals.

Martinez said the situation is atypical because of the number of
requests for tests to diagnose the disease. "We have noticed
increased requests for confirmation of such cases, probably as a
result of the alert we issued," he added. "Tests have been requested
for 9 new cases from Capital, San Pedro, Perico, and El Carmen [all
in Jujuy province - Mod.LL]. We are certain the disease was present
in the province and it emerges every year, but it is not adequately
diagnosed because health care professionals can confuse it with a
common flu. We probably haven't detected it before because the
respiratory symptoms can go from a relatively mild 'flu-like' illness
to an atypical pneumonia with general complications that can result in death."

Martinez reported that the 1st regional meeting was held at the
Guillermo Paterson Hospital in San Pedro de Jujuy, where guidelines
about the disease were distributed, including how to diagnose it, its
treatment and prevention, and control measures to be implemented.

Natural resources personnel were instructed on the appropriate
handling of wild birds, with emphasis on the fact that the capture
and trade of these birds is illegal.

Communicated by:
Cristiana Senni
World Parrot Trust

[ProMED-mail thanks Cristiana Senni for this posting.

_Chlamydophila psittaci_ has been isolated from about 100 bird
species, but most human _C. psittaci_ infections result from exposure
to pet psittacine birds. Transmission has been documented from other
birds, however, including doves, pigeons, birds of prey, and shore birds.

Psittacosis, also known as ornithosis or parrot fever, is a human
disease caused by the bacterium _Chlamydophila psittaci_. Classically
associated with psittacine birds such as parakeets, parrots, and
cockatiels, it may affect other avian species such as turkeys, ducks,
pigeons, and pheasants. Human infection in general is caused by
inhalation of dust containing the bacterium, which is shed in large
amounts in the feces and secretions of the infected birds. Illegally
imported decorative birds that have not been screened and/or treated
can be a significant source of the pathogen.

The respiratory infection, usually diagnosed serologically, can be
fatal if untreated. Although most diagnosed cases have direct
exposure to birds, the infection may be acquired indirectly through
the aerosolization of infective material in the grass or ground such
as when mowing a lawn. Because of such outbreaks, protective
equipment may be recommended for individuals in areas frequented by
free-ranging birds, if contact with birds and their droppings is
likely when performing outdoor activities such as lawn mowing.

People who are occupationally exposed to psittacosis include pet
store workers, poultry farmers, poultry processing workers, and veterinarians.

the 1st description of a disease marked by an atypical pneumonia was
reported in 1879 among persons having contact with sick parrots. A
severe and sometimes fatal atypical pneumonia was observed in various
European countries and the USA in later years. An unusually severe
epidemic occurred in Paris in 1892. The name psittacosis was
suggested for the disease in 1895.

An epidemic involving more than 100 cases of atypical pneumonia,
diagnosed as psittacosis, occurred in Argentina in 1929. A year
later, outbreaks in Europe and the USA were traced to parrots newly
imported from South America. - Mod.LL]

[Jujuy province is located in the extreme northwest of Argentina and
can be seen on the map at
The HealthMap/ProMED-mail interactive map of the country is available at
. - Sr.Tech.Ed.MJ]

[see also:
Psittacosis, fatal - Italy: (NA) 20100427.1356
Psittacosis - Russia: (KGN,ORE) 20090116.0185
Psittacosis - USA (02) 20071231.4191
Psittacosis - USA 20071230.4174
Psittacosis - Netherlands (Gelderland), Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul)
Psittacosis, bird show - Netherlands: (Gelderland) 20071203.3891
Psittacosis, duck exposure - Netherlands ex Germany 20071130.3868
Psittacosis - USA (NY): alert 20060608.1597
Psittacosis - Russia (Moscow) 20051104.3227
Psittacosis, birds - Australia (NSW) (02) 20030513.1183
Psittacosis, birds - Australia (NSW) 20030509.1157
Chlamydiosis, avians in zoo - UK 20030329.0782
Psittacosis, gardeners - Australia (NSW) (02) 20020624.4586
Psittacosis, gardeners - Australia (New South Wales) 20020613.4484
Chlamydiosis, flamingos - China (Jiangsu) 20011107.2758
Psittacosis - USA (California) (02) 20010731.1507
Psittacosis control, CDC Compendium: 1998 19980726.1419
Psittacosis - Belgium 19960129.0207]

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