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5 confirmed deaths, WHO alarm

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5 confirmed deaths, WHO alarm

PSITTACOSIS ALERT: WHO warns of respiratory infection linked to birds

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a new alert regarding the risks associated with psittacosis, a respiratory infection caused by the bacterium Chlamydophila psittaci, which primarily affects birds. The alert is particularly concerning in Europe, where cases of the illness in humans are on the rise, with already five confirmed deaths.

Psittacosis is a respiratory disease that mainly infects birds such as parrots, canaries, sparrows, and pigeons. In humans, it can be fatal, leading to serious pneumonia. Human infections are primarily transmitted through contact with the secretions of infected birds, especially for those who work with pet birds, veterinarians, and gardeners.

The WHO alert came after several European countries, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, and the Netherlands, reported a growing trend of psittacosis cases in 2023 and early 2024. These countries have already confirmed five deaths associated with the infection within the European Union.

Measures implemented to address the situation include analyzing samples of wild birds for Chlamydophila psittaci and monitoring the prevalence of the bacterium. The WHO assesses the risk of this event as low but continues to monitor the situation closely.

Experts emphasize the importance of timely communication and responsible action to prevent a potential infectious emergency. The lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the need for a comprehensive approach that involves everyone’s responsibility and attention, especially in dealing with threats from viruses, bacteria, animals, and humans.

In Italy, psittacosis is recorded sporadically, mostly in wild birds. The WHO alert serves as a reminder for people to be vigilant and cautious, especially those who have pet birds at home. It is essential to observe sick birds, avoid touching them, and seek medical attention if needed. While psittacosis is rare, the risk of transmission through respiratory routes or contact with infected birds should not be underestimated.

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The WHO’s alert on psittacosis underscores the importance of proactive measures to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and protect public health. The collaboration between international health organizations and national authorities is crucial in addressing emerging health threats and ensuring a safe environment for both humans and animals.

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