Lilian Kershaw, aged 84, became increasingly breathless after nine years of inhaling particles from the bird’s droppings and feathers when its cage was being cleaned out.
The 84-year-old grandmother was later diagnosed with the little-known disease Bird Fancier’s Lung.
Despite never handling Charlie the cockatiel, the retired cotton mill worker became out of breath while exposed to the bird in her living room.
Unbeknown to her family, the ill health was partly due to the bird, which was bought for grandson Lloyd in 2002.
This is rare but not unheard of. An allergic reaction to the proteins in the bird droppings, skin cells and feathers cause inflammation of the lungs.
Bird fancier’s lung is one of many types of hypersensitivity pneumonitis, also known as extrinsic allergic alveolitis. There are such things as farmer’s lung, mushroom picker’s disease, and humidifier or air-conditioner lung. Inflammation of the lungs occur due to breathing in a foreign substance, usually certain types of dust, fungus, or molds.
Continued exposure can bring on pulmonary fibrosis, a respiratory disease. This stressful condition may contribute to a heart attack.
Here is a piece I found on Pub Med.
Bird fancier’s lung: a series of 86 pat… [Medicine (Baltimore). 2008] – PubMed – NCBI. It is a study of people diagnosed with BFL from 1977 to 2003. Serious stuff if you are a serious bird keeper.