Budgies and bugs: our homegrown contribution to pandemics

Robert M Kaplan
Med J Aust 2021; 214 (11): . || doi: 10.5694/mja2.51111
Published online: 21 June 2021

The psittacosis epidemic of 1929–1930, spread by the Australian budgie, provides lessons for the COVID‐19 pandemic

At a time when the world is engulfed by the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, it is worth looking at an outbreak to which Australia made a special contribution — the psittacosis (after the Greek word for parrot) epidemic of 1929–1930.1 An important vector for the infection was our greatest export — the budgerigar, Melopsittacus undulatus, more commonly known as the budgie, the most popular pet in the world after dogs and cats.2 In America our little feathered friend is called the shell parrot or lovebird.

  • University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW


Competing interests:

No relevant disclosures.

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