A psittacosis epidemic linked to fulmar hunting occurred on the Faroe Islands in the 1930s. This study investigates a plausible explanation to the 20% human mortality in this outbreak. Phylogenetic analysis showed that Chlamydia psittaci isolated from fulmars were closely related to the highly virulent 6BC strains from psittacines and are compatible with an acquisition by fulmars of an ancestor of the 6BC clade in the 1930s. This supports the hypothesis that the outbreak on the Faroe Islands started after naïve fulmars acquired C. psittaci from infected dead parrots thrown overboard when shipped to Europe in the 1930s.
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