Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content


This online archive of the CDC Prevention Guidelines Database is being maintained for historical purposes, and has had no new entries since October 1998. To find more recent guidelines, please visit the following:

Appendix B - Compendium of Psittacosis (Chlamydiosis) Control, 1997

MMWR 46(RR13);12-13

Publication date: 07/18/1997

Table of Contents





Veterinarians can choose several methods for treating avian chlamydiosis (AC). Although these protocols are usually successful, knowledge in this area is evolving, and no treatment protocol guarantees safe treatment or complete elimination of infection by the etiologic agent Chlamydia psittaci in all avian species. Therefore, treatment should be supervised by a licensed veterinarian.

Methods of Treatment

Several methods of treating AC exist. The following are established as effective treatments:

Medicated Feed

The medicated feed should be the only food provided to the birds during the entire treatment. Birds' acceptance of medicated feed is variable. Thus, food consumption should be monitored. Acceptance may be enhanced by first adapting the birds to a similar, nonmedicated diet. The treatment begins when the birds accept the medicated feed as the sole food in their diet.

  1. Medicated mash diets (i.e., greater than or equal to 1% chlortetracycline {CTC} with less than or equal to 0.7% calcium) prepared with corn can be used. *
  2. White millet seed, impregnated with 0.5 mg CTC/g of seed, may be used for budgerigar parakeets and finches only. It should be used for 30 days (Keet Life{registered}; Hartz Mountain is the only manufacturer).
  3. Pellets and extruded products containing 1% CTC may be used. They are available and appropriate for use in most companion birds. A pellet size should be selected that is appropriate for the size of bird being treated. The treatment period is 45 days.
  4. A special diet may be necessary for birds belonging to a subfamily of psittacine birds known as Loriidae (i.e., lories and lorikeets) that feed on nectar and fruit in the wild.
Oral or Parenteral Treatments

Birds should be treated for a total of 45 days. Three such treatments are provided.

Oral doxycycline. Doxycycline is the drug of choice for oral treatment; either the monohydrate or calcium-syrup formulations may be used. Based on nonpeer-reviewed studies, dosage recommendations are as follows: 40-50 mg/kg by mouth once a day for cockatiels, Senegal parrots, and blue-fronted and orange-winged Amazon parrots; and 25 mg/kg by mouth once a day for African grey parrots, Goffin's cockatoos, and blue and gold and green-winged macaws. Precise dosages cannot be extrapolated for untested species; however, 25-30 mg/kg administered by mouth once a day is the recommended starting dose in cockatoos and macaws, and 25-50 mg/kg by mouth once a day is recommended in other psittacine species. If the bird regurgitates the drug, another treatment method should be used.

Injectable doxycycline. Intramuscular (IM) injection into the pectoral muscle is often the easiest method of treatment, but not all injectable doxycycline formulations are suitable for IM injection. All currently available formulations may cause irritation at the injection site. The Vibrovenos formulation (Pfizer Laboratories) is available in Europe and Canada and is effective if administered at doses of 75-100 mg/kg IM every 5-7 days for the first 4 weeks and subsequently every 5 days for the duration of the treatment. Anecdotal reports exist of the successful use of pharmacist-compounded injectable-doxycycline products in the United States. However, data are insufficient to determine precise dosage schedules. The injectable-hyclate formulation labeled for intravenous (IV) use in humans in the United States is not suitable for IM use, because severe tissue reactions will occur at the site of injection.

Injectable oxytetracycline. Limited information exists for the use of an injectable, long-acting oxytetracycline product (LA-200, Pfizer Laboratories). Current dosage recommendations are as follows: subcutaneous injection of 75 mg/kg every 3 days in Goffin's cockatoos, blue-fronted and orange-winged Amazon parrots, and blue and gold macaws. This dose may be suitable for other species but has not been tested. This product causes irritation at the site of injection and is best used to initiate treatment in ill birds or those that are reluctant to eat. After stabilization with oxytetracycline treatment, the birds should be switched to another form of treatment to reduce the muscle irritation that is caused by repeated oxytetracycline injection.

Experimental methods

Treatment protocols using fluoroquinolones, late-generation macrolides, pharmacist-compounded injectable doxycycline, and doxycycline-medicated feed are currently being investigated. Information about these treatment protocols may be available in the scientific literature or from avian veterinary specialists.

Sources of Medicated Feeds

Medicated feed is available from several sources. The National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians can provide a list of suppliers. Address requests to the Association at RSA Tower, Ste. 1310, P.O. Box 303017, Montgomery, AL 36130-3017.

* The recommended recipe is 2 pounds of rice, 2 pounds of hen scratch feed, and 3 pints of water, cooked for 15 minutes at full pressure in a pressure cooker. Add 10 mg chlortetracycline/g of feed after the cooked feed cools. Note that birds may find this diet unpalatable and may not accept it.


To request a copy of this document or for questions concerning this document, please contact the person or office listed below. If requesting a document, please specify the complete name of the document as well as the address to which you would like it mailed. Note that if a name is listed with the address below, you may wish to contact this person via CDC WONDER/PC e-mail.
For single issue purchase 800-843-6356


State/Fed Gov: For free copies
write to: CDC, MMWR MS(C-08)
Atlanta, GA 30333

This page last reviewed: Wednesday, January 27, 2016
This information is provided as technical reference material. Please contact us at to request a simple text version of this document.