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Have You Got Pigeon Fancier's Lung?

Bird Image

Pigeon fancier’s lung is form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. It occurs when the sufferer's lungs develop an immune response to something they breathe in. The resulting inflammation of the lung tissue produces coughing, shortness of breath, fever and joint pains. The condition can lead to permanent scarring of the lungs and is caused by breathing in particles from feathers or bird droppings.

This is a potentially life threatening condition which usually afflicts those who keep numerous birds and these can be of any species. Not everyone develops an allergy to their birds and sadly the damage has often already been done by the time a problem is discovered.

Southport Bird Fancier

A Bird lover from Southport recently almost died due to a serious case of bird fancier’s lung. Lynne Porter had been completely oblivious to the fact that her birds were slowing killing her. Mrs Porter had helped her father with his finches before getting her first budgerigar 23 years ago. She began to form an impressive collection of birds including parrots, parakeets and quails and it wasn’t long before her husband needed to build an aviary to house them all.

Falling Ill After 20 years

Eventually Mrs Porter owned as many as 80 budgies and was breeding 160 chicks each year. But for 20 years her birds had been poisoning her. She had not realised the damage they were doing until she became ill during a trip in 2012. Her face went grey and her lips were blue, such was her difficulty in breathing. Doctors managed to stabilize her but her illness had caused permanent lung damage and scarring.

She had developed bird fancier’s lung and doctors told her that she would die if she didn’t give up her much loved pets. Her lungs looked black on the x-rays which were taken. She was informed that her condition was so serious that If she kept her birds, she would be dead within two months.

The birds have now gone and Mrs porter is calling on all bird breeders to get themselves checked regularly.

How to Protect Yourself from Pigeon Fancier’s Lung

If you keep multiple birds, you should take steps to protect yourself from becoming ill with pigeon fancier’s lung. It is important that you wear a mask when you are around your birds, especially when in confined spaces. A filtering mask will reduce the number of particles that you inhale. The mask must conform to the appropriate European Standards (EN149:FFP1 (S) for disposable masks and EN143:1990 for replaceable filter masks).

Remember to ensure that your mask is a good fit as if the seal is not perfect, you will still be breathing in too many particles.

You may not be allergic to your birds but why take the risk? Masks are highly effective and affordable. They will offer the protection you need to prevent your birds from damaging your health. You may not discover than your birds are making you sick until it is too late and permanent damage has been caused.


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