Medicine: Strictly for the Birds

Millions of Americans—the estimates run between 8,000,000 and 10,000,000—keep parakeets for pets, and every year about 300 happy bird owners come down with psittacosis ("parrot fever," also called ornithosis). Before the discovery of antibiotics, psittacosis was unbeatable, killed scores of people in the U.S. This led to a federal embargo on all members of the parrot family—they still cannot be imported for sale. But last week, famed old (74) Virologist Karl F. Meyer was hailed at Stockholm's International Congress for Microbiology for a research victory that was strictly for the birds: he has...

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