ORLAND HILLS, Ill. – A family in Illinois lost their pet parakeet to a mysterious illness.
They bought the bird from PetSmart and now the chain has removed parakeets from more than 500 stores nationwide due to a bacterial illness.
Now, the family is suffering from flu-like symptoms and says they were never informed about the problem.
“He would chirp every morning, friendly with our dog,” said Wendi O’Brien.
The O’Brien family was so happy with ‘Blue’ the parakeet, Wendi says she went back to PetSmart to buy him a friend.
“We noticed all the parakeets gone,” said O’Brien.
As it turns out, PetSmart had pulled parakeets from 511 stores due to a bacterial illness called Psittacosis Chlamydia, which is known to cause lethargy and loss of appetite in birds.
When passed to humans, it causes flu-like symptoms.
The family came home and found ‘Blue’ dead.
“I thought, are you kidding? We were just at the store and had no idea of the recall,” said O’Brien.
Wendi went to her physician after suffering respiratory and cold-like symptoms.
“My husband is sick, my sister. There’s three adults that are sick,” she said.
Her doctor says she’s okay, but Wendi, who is a former nurse, worries about others.
“It’s a potential public health hazard for people who have a sick child, or the elderly or pregnant and don’t know. It could put them at risk and jeopardize their health,” she said.
PetSmart says 16 birds that were purchased between March 12 and May 20 have tested positive.
However, no human transmission has been reported.
All birds from the 511 stores have been treated with antibiotics.
Meanwhile, Wendi says she never got any information about the illness or the email that PetSmart says it sent out to members.
“I just wish they were more proactive,” she said.
PetSmart is offering to pay for tests and medicine for owners of potentially sick birds and suggests calling the store where you purchased the parakeet for testing.