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An unusual presentation of a case of human psittacosis

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Abstract
Background: Chlamydia psittaci is a gram-negative, obligate intracellular organism. Birds are the main reservoir, but also non-avian domestic animals and humans can be infected. In humans it mostly causes respiratory infections due to occupational exposure with varying severity. Sensitive and specific diagnostic tests are needed to define psittacosis in humans as these tests also allow rapid tracing of the animal source. However, diagnosis in humans is often based on time-consuming culture techniques and antibody detection assays as in many countries, the existing molecular diagnostic tests for psittacosis are not reimbursed by the public health insurance. Case presentation: An 82-year old female was referred to the hospital with a non-productive cough since four weeks and since one week fever up to 39 degrees C, myalgia, generalized skin rash, acral edema and generalized weakness under treatment with moxifloxacin. Blood analysis showed signs of inflammation with mild eosinophilia. Chest CT showed multiple peripheral ground glass opacities with consolidation in both lungs. Pulmonary function testing only showed a mild decrease in diffusion capacity. Viral and bacterial serology were negative. As the patient kept a pet parakeet for over ten years, a nested PCR for C. psittaci was performed on a nasopharyngeal swab of the patient and on feces of the parakeet. Both returned positive for the same genotype. Genotyping was performed by a genotype-specific real-time PCR. The patient fully recovered after a ten-day course of azithromycin. Conclusion: Due to non-specific signs during psittacosis, early detection of the infection and differentiation from hypersensitivity pneumonitis can be challenging. Culture and antibody titers for C. psittaci have a lower sensitivity than PCR-testing due to several factors. We present a case of human psittacosis (presenting as pneumonia) with diagnosis based on clinical findings confirmed by means of nested PCR. This case suggests the added value of PCR in suspect cases despite negative serology. Our current paper underlines the need for a broader implementation of PCR for early diagnosis of human psittacosis and thus early initiation of correct antibiotic treatment with reduction of morbidity and mortality.
Keywords
Chlamydia psittaci, Psittacosis, Atypical pneumonia, Polymerase chain reaction, CHLAMYDOPHILA-PSITTACI, CHLAMYDIA-PSITTACI, ATYPICAL PNEUMONIA, INFECTIONS, BIRDS, TURKEYS, PCR

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Chicago
Vande Weygaerde, Yannick, Charlot Versteele, Elke Thijs, Anton De Spiegeleer, Jerina Boelens, Daisy Vanrompay, Eva Van Braeckel, and Karim Vermaelen. 2018. “An Unusual Presentation of a Case of Human Psittacosis.” Respiratory Medicine Case Reports 23: 138–142.
APA
Vande Weygaerde, Y., Versteele, C., Thijs, E., De Spiegeleer, A., Boelens, J., Vanrompay, D., Van Braeckel, E., et al. (2018). An unusual presentation of a case of human psittacosis. RESPIRATORY MEDICINE CASE REPORTS, 23, 138–142.
Vancouver
1.
Vande Weygaerde Y, Versteele C, Thijs E, De Spiegeleer A, Boelens J, Vanrompay D, et al. An unusual presentation of a case of human psittacosis. RESPIRATORY MEDICINE CASE REPORTS. 2018;23:138–42.
MLA
Vande Weygaerde, Yannick, Charlot Versteele, Elke Thijs, et al. “An Unusual Presentation of a Case of Human Psittacosis.” RESPIRATORY MEDICINE CASE REPORTS 23 (2018): 138–142. Print.
@article{8561903,
  abstract     = {Background: Chlamydia psittaci is a gram-negative, obligate intracellular organism. Birds are the main reservoir, but also non-avian domestic animals and humans can be infected. In humans it mostly causes respiratory infections due to occupational exposure with varying severity. Sensitive and specific diagnostic tests are needed to define psittacosis in humans as these tests also allow rapid tracing of the animal source. However, diagnosis in humans is often based on time-consuming culture techniques and antibody detection assays as in many countries, the existing molecular diagnostic tests for psittacosis are not reimbursed by the public health insurance. 
Case presentation: An 82-year old female was referred to the hospital with a non-productive cough since four weeks and since one week fever up to 39 degrees C, myalgia, generalized skin rash, acral edema and generalized weakness under treatment with moxifloxacin. Blood analysis showed signs of inflammation with mild eosinophilia. Chest CT showed multiple peripheral ground glass opacities with consolidation in both lungs. Pulmonary function testing only showed a mild decrease in diffusion capacity. Viral and bacterial serology were negative. As the patient kept a pet parakeet for over ten years, a nested PCR for C. psittaci was performed on a nasopharyngeal swab of the patient and on feces of the parakeet. Both returned positive for the same genotype. Genotyping was performed by a genotype-specific real-time PCR. The patient fully recovered after a ten-day course of azithromycin. 
Conclusion: Due to non-specific signs during psittacosis, early detection of the infection and differentiation from hypersensitivity pneumonitis can be challenging. Culture and antibody titers for C. psittaci have a lower sensitivity than PCR-testing due to several factors. We present a case of human psittacosis (presenting as pneumonia) with diagnosis based on clinical findings confirmed by means of nested PCR. This case suggests the added value of PCR in suspect cases despite negative serology. Our current paper underlines the need for a broader implementation of PCR for early diagnosis of human psittacosis and thus early initiation of correct antibiotic treatment with reduction of morbidity and mortality.},
  author       = {Vande Weygaerde, Yannick and Versteele, Charlot and Thijs, Elke and De Spiegeleer, Anton and Boelens, Jerina and Vanrompay, Daisy and Van Braeckel, Eva and Vermaelen, Karim},
  issn         = {2213-0071},
  journal      = {RESPIRATORY MEDICINE CASE REPORTS},
  keyword      = {Chlamydia psittaci,Psittacosis,Atypical pneumonia,Polymerase chain reaction,CHLAMYDOPHILA-PSITTACI,CHLAMYDIA-PSITTACI,ATYPICAL PNEUMONIA,INFECTIONS,BIRDS,TURKEYS,PCR},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {138--142},
  title        = {An unusual presentation of a case of human psittacosis},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.rmcr.2018.01.010},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2018},
}

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