ATLANTA – The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 13 cases of psittacosis among poultry plant workers at two processing plants in Virginia and Georgia that are owned by the same company.
Laboratory tests confirmed the presence of Chlamydia psittaci, the type of bacteria that causes psittacosis, which causes mild illness in people. Common symptoms include fever and chills, headache, muscle aches and a dry cough. The most common vector of infection is by breathing in dust containing dried secretions from infected birds. The bacteria are not spread by preparing or eating chicken, the agency noted.
Psittacosis cases were reported between August and October, however, only 13 were lab-confirmed. The CDC said affected plants suspended operations for cleaning, and plant management held town hall meetings to discuss the outbreak with workers.
“The latest data suggest that this outbreak is only affecting people who work at the identified poultry slaughter plants,” CDC explained. “Public health officials are investigating whether other people exposed to chickens (e.g., farmers, truck drivers) that were shipped to the affected plants got sick. At this time, investigators do not believe people working outside of this industry or consumers are at risk.”