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Keeping Healthy in the Loft

Simple precautions can help you enjoy your sport

In the same way as some pet owners are allergic to their animals – cats, dogs, horses, etc., some pigeon owners are allergic to their pigeons. This causes a condition called pigeon fancier’s lung, and is caused by the dust from pigeons such as bloom or dry droppings, resulting in an allergic reaction in the small air sacs in the lungs. The allergy is a delayed reaction and occurs four to six hours after contact with the birds, causing flu-like symptoms – aches and pains in the muscles, shivering and a dry cough, typically felt in the evening after a day with the pigeons.

‘Prevention is better than cure’. So every fancier should use a mask when cleaning out the loft and the loft should be well ventilated. Keeping too many pigeons for the size of the loft should be avoided. It is important to wear the correct type of mask. The BHW Puramask has been approved by the British Pigeon Fanciers Medical Research Team and can be purchased direct from the BHW. Other suitable masks and much more information can be viewed on the BPFMRT website www.pigeon-lung.co.uk

The comparatively small number of fanciers who actually have the allergy should wear a cap, mask and coat whenever with the pigeons, even at shows, the clubhouse, marking stations and especially when transporting the pigeons in the car – remembering to leave the car windows open a little to aid ventilation. A trailer outside the car is the best arrangement but clearly not everyone can afford this.

Any fancier living in the British Isles, including Southern Ireland, can have his/her blood tested free by the research team if they feel they are getting a reaction to the pigeons. Fanciers from abroad now pay the basic unit cost of the test. To arrange a test phone the Research Scientist Iona Donnely on 0141 330 1878, or preferably e-mail Iona at [email protected] for the quickest response. Most young people are experienced in computer use and will probably find this easier. The blood is tested for pigeon reaction (pigeon lung) only.

Dr PP Lynch, Chair BPFMRT

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