Birds sold to RI pet shops in quarantine

The birds were sold at Critter Hut in North Kingstown and Narragansett.

Health officials said parrots and other birds from a diseased flock were sold to two Rhode Island pet shops.

Because all the birds came from the same flock, it's been relatively easy for the state to isolate them and to examine them to prevent an outbreak.

The state is working with two pet shops since learning a privately-owned flock of birds sold to the store suffered from psittacosis, an airborne bacterial infection that infects only certain types of birds like cockatoos, parrots and parakeets.

Jeff Champlin of Critter Hut Aquarium and Pets said the birds are under precautionary quarantine.

The infection can spread to people and produce flu-like symptoms. But so far, no cases have been reported in people in Rhode Island, and the state said it can be treated easily.

But that wasn't always the case.

"It's got a lot of historical significance in that it was responsible for a lot of human deaths in the 20s and 30s before the advent of good, effective antibiotics. We don't see the disease very often anymore," said Dr. Scott Marshall, the state veterinarian.

The flock's owner in Pawtucket has been cooperating with the state. She began treatment with her flock after some birds died and showed symptoms. Since then, there have been no more reported bird deaths.

The state is now testing all of the birds.

"All the birds are located in Rhode Island. They've been quarantined since the attending veterinarian first reported signs of sick birds on the suspicion that they did have this disease. Once it was confirmed, we've been doing trace-outs to the people that bought birds, quarantining those birds, and making sure that they contact their veterinarian to have the birds tested," Marshall said.

At Critter Hut, it's business as usual while the birds are separated from everything and everyone else in the store.

So far, so good.

"There's been no signs of illness and again the last bird that we purchased from this breeder was months ago and if the birds did have psittacosis, they would have shown some signs of it by now," Champlin said.

Anyone who bought a parrot or similar bird from Critter Hut Aquarium and Pets in North Kingstown or in Narragansett should contact a veterinarian.