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Pigeon Breeders' Disease: A Clinical Study of a Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis

JORDAN N. FINK, M.D.; ABE J. SOSMAN, M.D.; JOSEPH J. BARBORIAK, PH.D.; DONALD P. SCHLUETER, M.D.; and RICHARD A. HOLMES, M.D.
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Copyright ©, 1968, by The American College of PhysiciansThe American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1968;68(6):1205-1219. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-68-6-1205
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SUMMARY:

The clinical and laboratory features of 12 patients with pigeon breeders' disease were studied during symptomatic and asymptomatic phases. The results indicated that this hypersensitivity pneumonitis may occur as an acute, subacute, or chronic form differing in type and intensity of signs, symptoms, and response to therapy. Pulmonary function tests in most symptomatic breeders revealed restriction, obstruction, or a diffusion defect. More than one half of the breeders had chest X-ray findings suggestive of a diffuse interstitial process with secondary alveolar involvement. Lung biopsy showed a granulomatous interstitial pneumonitis and, in the one case of the chronic form, an obstructive bronchiolitis. An Arthus type of skin reactivity to challenge with pigeon antigens was found in all patients. Sera from all 12 breeders contained precipitating antibody against various pigeon antigens. Our experience indicates that the preferential therapy for these patients is avoidance of contact with pigeons.

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