Outbreak of psittacosis in a group of women exposed to Chlamydia psittaci-infected chickens
Eight cases of psittacosis due to Chlamydia psittaci were identified in May 2013 among 15 individuals involved in chicken gutting activities on a mixed poultry farm in France. All cases were women between 42 and 67 years-old. Cases were diagnosed by serology and PCR of respiratory samples. Appropriate treatment was immediately administered to the eight hospitalised individuals after exposure to birds had been discovered. In the chicken flocks, mainly C. gallinacea was detected, a new member of the family Chlamydiaceae, whereas the ducks were found to harbour predominantly C. psittaci, the classical agent of psittacosis. In addition, C. psittaci was found in the same flock as the chickens that the patients had slaughtered. Both human and C. psittaci-positive avian samples carried the same ompA genotype E/B of C. psittaci, which is widespread among French duck flocks. Repeated grassland rotations between duck and chicken flocks on the farm may explain the presence of C. psittaci in the chickens. Inspection by the veterinary service led to temporary closure of the farm. All birds had to be euthanised on site as no slaughterhouses accepted processing them. Farm buildings and grasslands were cleaned and/or disinfected before the introduction of new poultry birds.