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Eur J Pediatr. 2006 Jan;165(1):55-61. Epub 2005 Nov 4.

Bird breeder's disease: a rare diagnosis in young children.

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Pulmonology Unit, Department of Paediatrics, Geneva University Hospital, Rue Willy-Donzé 6, 1211 , Geneva 14, Switzerland,


Bird breeder's lung disease is the most common form of hypersensitivity pneumonitis and is a rare entity in young children. We report three cases of children under 7 years of age in whom this diagnosis was confirmed early in the course of the disease. Three children aged 4.4 to 6.5 years presented with dry cough lasting for more than 1 month, dyspnoea, variable loss of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, fever and mild signs of respiratory distress. Chest X-ray films and CT scans showed a bilateral micronodular infiltrate. All three patients had strongly suggestive bronchoalveolar lavage fluid findings with lymphocytosis; two had elevated cell counts and decreased CD4/CD8 ratios. Lung biopsy confirmed the diagnosis in all children. Contact with allergens was identified in all children: two had spent holidays close to a farm in the previous month and one was living next to a pigeon house. In all children, avian precipitins were positive. The symptoms rapidly resolved after allergen avoidance and treatment with oral prednisone. Corticoid treatment was given between 11 and 15 weeks. One child relapsed and required long-term low-dose corticotherapy for 1 year. Lung function tests were normal in all three patients, 3.9 to 5.7 years after diagnosis.


Bird breeder's lung disease is a rare entity but should be considered in young children presenting long lasting cough. While rapid allergen exclusion and start of treatment can avoid the evolution into irreversible lung fibrosis, clinical and biological evolution should be monitored carefully even after stopping corticoid treatment because of the possibility of relapse.

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