A least 18 people are ill after catching what is thought to be psittacose, or parrot disease, after visiting a village bird show earlier this month.
Seven of them have been hospitalised after feeling unwell earlier this week with flu-like symptoms. Among those in hospital are five members of the show’s organising committee, NOS news reported on Friday. Health officials hope to be able to say later today if parrot disease has definitely been identified. The show, in the village of Weurt near Nijmegen, was visited by some 200 people.
The institute for animal diseases in Lelystad said such a large outbreak has never been recorded before in the Netherlands.
Efforts to eradicate psittacose have been made in the past, but this is almost impossible to achieve given that not all bird breeders are legitimate and a lot of trading takes place over the internet, a spokesman said.
Parrot disease is transmitted by bacteria which a large variety of birds can carry, often without having any symptoms themselves. In humans it leads to fever, a stuffed up nose, headaches and muscle pain.
Although easily treated with antibiotics, psittacose can be serious, especially for the elderly and people with limited resistance, health officials said.
The government’s health institute RIVM told NOS tv that it receives some 30 reports of parrot disease a year, adding that more cases may go unreported. The victims are usually either traders or breeders.
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