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Original Article


Hypoxemia: an early indication of pigeon breeders’ disease. Clinical and laboratory findings among pigeon breeders in the Salonica area


K. Charitopoulos, D. Gioulekas, L. Sichletidis, D. Chloros, V. Vamvakopoulou, K. Zarogoulidis

Pulmonary Clinic, Aristotle’s University of Thessalonica Laboratory for the Investigation of Environmental Diseases Exochi, Thessalonica, Greece

J Invest Allergol Clin Immunol 2005; Vol. 15(3): 211-215



. The purpose of this study is to identify pathological findings among pigeon breeders in the Salonica area. Fifty-four volunteer breeders with varying intensity of contact with pigeons participated in the study. All the breeders, after filling in a questionnaire that included questions about the existence of conjunctivitis, rhinitis, chronic cough and sputum, were subjected to clinical examination and spirometric, hematological (arterial and venous), radiographic and immunologic tests. Twenty-five point nine percent of the breeders suffered from conjunctivitis, 31.5% from rhinitis and 33.3% from chronic cough and sputum. Fourteen point eight percent of them had class I precipitins, 7.4% had class II, 5.6% had class III and 16.7% had class IV and a positive correlation of precipitin class with the number of pigeons bred was found. Seven breeders (13%) had hypoxemia at rest and other 8 (14.8%) presented with hypoxemia after the exercise testing. Two breeders presented with a combination of findings of allergic alveolitis that satisfied the criteria of the Pigeon Breeders’ Disease (PBD). A substantial number of the examined pigeon breeders were sensitized to pigeon serum antigens. Arterial hypoxemia, either at rest and/or after exercise was observed in 27.8% of breeders. Three point seven percent of breeders presented with clinical and laboratory findings consistent with PBD. Chronic cough and sputum in pigeon breeders should be
considered as a possible manifestation of PBD.

Key words: Pigeon breeders’ disease, hypoxemia, chronic cough, allergic alveolitis, precipitins.