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March 24, 1956


JAMA. 1956;160(12):1057. doi:10.1001/jama.1956.02960470053014

In 1929 and 1930 epidemics of psittacosis occurred in the United States and Europe. Although these epidemics did not involve large numbers of persons, the case fatality rate was about 20%. This brought the disease into prominence and led to drastic restrictions on the importation and interstate shipment of psittacine birds.1 Between 1930 and 1951 the disease became relatively rare. After World War II an enormous demand for parakeets and related species of small talking birds (small birds that talk as well as birds that indulge in small talk) has been created, and millions of such birds have been brought into the United States both legally and illegally. Many of these, especially those smuggled in, were infected with psittacosis. Whereas between 1945 and 1951 about 28 cases per year were reported, about 444 were reported in 1954.2 In the interval after the epidemics of 1929, it was learned

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