Finch feathers

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Code: e214
Latin name: Lonchura domestrica
Source material: Feathers
Family: Fringillidae
Common names: Finch; also see below.
Direct or indirect contact with bird allergens may cause sensitisation. Bird allergens may be major components of house dust.

Allergen Exposure

Geographical distribution
Finch is the common name for members of the Fringillidae, the largest family of birds (including over half the known species), found in most parts of the world except Australia. Finches are characterised by their stout, conical bills, used to crack open the seeds that form the bulk of their diet. They are valued as destroyers of weed seeds; many also eat harmful insects. Since seeds, unlike insects, are not influenced by weather, many Finches are year-round residents in colder areas. The Finches, which are considered the most highly developed of the birds, are widely diversified. In addition to birds whose names, such as Goldfinch, designate them as Finches: Sparrows, Buntings, Towhees, Juncos, Grosbeaks, Cardinals, Bramblings, Siskins, Linnets, Redpols, Canaries and Crossbills are all Finches.
 
Environment
Finches' wild environments are extremely diverse; Canaries are known mostly through captivity.
 
Allergens
No allergens from this bird have yet been characterised.
 

Potential Cross-Reactivity

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Clinical Experience

IgE mediated reactions
Asthma, allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis may result following exposure to bird allergens (1). The allergenic proteins may be found in bird serum, droppings, skin scales, feathers and, in the case of Pigeons, Pigeon bloom (a waxy fine dust which coats the feathers of Pigeons). Contact may result from handling birds, cleaning their lofts, or exposure to the organic dust drifting down from a ceiling or roof where birds nest.
 
Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis, also known as Hypersensitivity pneumonitis, Bird Fancier's Lung and Farmer's Lung, is a disease of inflammation of the lung parenchyma in the terminal bronchioles and alveoli. Symptoms may start soon after exposure to bird allergens or after many years, and may include breathlessness, cough, occasional chills, and fever. Death may also result.
 
The disease occurs after exposure to organic dust, especially after close contact with Pigeons or other birds such as Budgerigars, Parrots, Canaries, Parakeets, Cockatiels, Doves or Finches. Exposure results in the development of immunoglobulins including IgE (1), IgM (2), IgA and various IgG subclasses (3-5). The antibodies may be found in the sera and saliva of patients (6) as well as in the sera of asymptomatic but exposed subjects (7).
 
Hypersensitivity pneumonitis due to Finch feathers has been reported. Serum-precipitating antibodies to Finch extract were positive and the patient improved after removal of Finches (8).
 
Diagnosis is based on a characteristic clinical picture and a typical x-ray pattern, accompanied by the presence of specific IgG antibodies (9).
 
The measurement of specific IgG using IgG tracer technology has been shown to be a sensitive and specific assay for the routine diagnostic testing of Extrinsic Allergic Alveolitis (10).
 
Compiled by Dr Harris Steinman, harris@zingsolutions.com

References

  1. Tauer-Reich I, Fruhmann G, Czuppon AB, Baur X. Allergens causing bird fancier’s asthma. Allergy 1994;49(6):448-53
  2. Martinez-Cordero E, Aquilar Leon DE, Retana VN. IgM antiavian antibodies in sera from patients with pigeon breeder’s disease. J Clin Lab Anal 2000;14(5):201-7
  3. Yoshizawa Y, Miyashita Y, Inoue T, Sumi Y, Miyazaki Y, Sato T, et al. Sequential evaluation of clinical and immunological findings in hypersensitivity pneumonitis: serial subclass distribution of antibodies. Clin immunol Immunopathol 1994;73(3):330-7
  4. Todd A, Coan R, Allen A. Pigeon breeder’s lung; IgG subclasses to pigeon Intestinal mucin and IgA antigens. Clin Exp Immunol 1993;92(3):494-9
  5. Baldwin CI, Todd A, Bourke SJ, Allen A, Calvert JE. IgG subclass responses to pigeon intestinal mucin are related to development of pigeon fancier’s lung. Clin Exp Allergy 1998;28(3):349-57
  6. McSharry C, Macleod K, McGregor S, Speekenbrink AB, Sriram S, Boyd F, et al. Mucosal immunity in extrinsic allergic alveolitis: salivary immunoglobulins and antibody against inhaled avian antigens among pigeon breeders. Clin Exp Allergy 1999;29(7):957-64
  7. Rodrigo MJ, Benavent MI, Cruz MJ, Rosell M, Murio C, Pascual C, et al. Detection of specific antibodies to pigeon serum and bloom antigens by enzyme linked immunosorbent assay in pigeon breeder’s disease. Occup Environ Med 2000;57(3):159-64
  8. Krasnick J, Patterson R, Roberts M. Multifactorial immunologic lung disease: a case report. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol 1995;75(3):239-41
  9. Rodriguez de Castro F, Carrillo T, Castillo R, Blanco C, Diaz F, Cuevas M. Relationship between characteristics of exposure to pigeon antigens. Clinical manifestations and humoral immune response. Chest 1993;103(4):1059-63
  10. Lopata A, Schinkel M, Andersson C, Johansson G, van Hage-Hamsten M. Quantification of IgG antibodies to bird antigens in the diagnosis of extrinsic allergic alveolitis (EAA) using the UniCAP system. (Manuscript in preparation)

 

As in all diagnostic testing, the diagnosis is made by the physican based on both test results and the patient history.