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Open Access Transmission of tuberculosis between men and pet birds: a case report

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The present report describes a case of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection in an African Grey parrot (Psittacus erithacus erithacus) kept as a pet bird. Diagnosis was confirmed by microbiologic and pathologic results, and indicated a human-avian transmission. Clinical signs included sublingual nodules resulting in anorexia and signs of osteolysis in the long bones. Proliferation consisted of several nodules with small greenish-caseous foci in cross-section and revealed a severe granulomatous inflammation without intralesional acid-fast rods. M. tuberculosis was cultured from a pooled sample of sublingual and liver nodules, and was confirmed via polymerase chain reaction. Transmission between men and parrot was proved by spoligotyping pattern analysis. The absence of facial skin lesions and acid-fast rods within the tubercles is contrary to previous publications of tuberculosis in birds. This disease in a common pet bird species is of zoonotic importance, and those parrots with close contact to owners suffering from tuberculosis may serve as a potential reservoir for human infection.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Clinic for Birds and Reptiles, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany 2: National Reference Center for Mycobacteria, Research Center Borstel, Borstel, Germany

Publication date: December 1, 2008

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