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The Chlamydia bacteria consist of three species, C. trachomatis, C. psittaci, and C. pneumoniae. Of greatest concern as a contaminant of indoor air is C. psittaci, the causative agent of psittacosis, a reportable disease. Infectious elementary bodies are spherical, 0.25–0.3 μm in diameter, and easily aerosolized by infected parrots, parakeets, pigeons, cockatiels, turkeys, and other bird reservoirs. Most cases occur in pet bird owners or turkey processors. Exposure occurs as dried droppings or eye and nostril secretions of infected birds are inhaled by a susceptible host in an enclosed space. Symptoms include fever, pneumonia, cough, headache, and weakness. The illness may be self-limiting or treated with antibiotics. Fatalities are usually restricted to the elderly. Laboratory infections may occur. Hospital cases should be isolated in rooms with controlled airflow. For bioaerosol monitoring, the all-glass impinger (AGI-30) and membrane filter are recommended. Two impingers with sucrose-phosphate-glutamate (SPG) medium are used at each site for 30 mins, after which samples are processed for direct fluorescent antibody (DFA) testing and inoculation of tissue cell lines. Air monitoring cassettes with detergent-free membrane filters may be used. Collected aerosols are eluted into SPG and concentrated for DFA or culture. Monitoring personnel should wear respirators with HEPA cartridges. Environmental surfaces may be decontaminated with phenolic disinfectants.
chlamydia, psittacosis, parrot fever, ornithosis
senior research microbiologist, Research Triangle Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC