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Biogenics Research Institute
Other Respiratory Tract Disorders
Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis
Idiopathic Intersitial Lung Disease

Pigeon Breeder's Lung & Bird Fancier's Disease

Pigeon Breeder's Lung, first reported by Reed (35) in 1965 is one of the classic forms of hypersensitivity pneumonia (HP). It occurs as a result of intermittent exposure to coops that house pigeons during cleaning. Since these birds are not kept inside the home, the presentation of HP is usually acute and episodic. Similar presentations have been noted in person raising chickens and turkeys for commercial use when cleaning the coops and barns.


Bird Fancier's Lung is a broader category in that inside exposure to numerous domestic and wild birds have been reported to lead to hypersensitivity pneumonia. The exposure is usually to fewer and smaller birds. Antigen exposure is lower but continuous causing presentations that are insidious. These patients may present with extensive fibrosis.


The cause of both diseases is inhalation of avian (bird) antigens from feather bloom and/or droppings in closed environments. Patients present as with other forms of HP; acute, subacute, and chronic (insidious). The chronic form has recently been subgrouped into two types; patients with the initial presentation as chronic or insidious, and those who develop fibrosis after repeated acute episodes. (39)


The entire spectrum of histopathological patterns associated with HP and idiopathic interstitial lung disease may be seen in patients with pigeon breeder's and bird fancier's lung. Open lung biopsies have been interpreted as classic HP with granulomata, NSIP and UIP. (36,39) The UIP presentation seems to occur much more commonly in the insidious or chronic group of patients. Death rates in the UIP presentation are significant despite avoidance and uses of systemic steroids. (39)


Diagnosis of bird fancier's lung revolves around a consistent clinical presentation, environmental exposure to birds, serum precipitins to specific bird antigen. Avoidance of the causative bird antigen should lead to resolution or non-progression of the disease, particularly in the acute and subacute presentations