Chicken coops & respiratory disease

Written by gregg gerber
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Chicken coops & respiratory disease
A Clean Outdoor Chicken Coop (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of jenny)

If you have chickens on your farm or in your backyard, there are health risks you should be aware of that can affect your entire family. Chicken droppings can cause respiratory disease both in those directly involved in the daily care of the birds, as well as the occasional handler.

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Types

There are two types of respiratory diseases that are associated with handling bird droppings: histoplasmosis and psittacosis.

Cause

People become infected by inhaling fungi spores that grow in the droppings. The spores become airborne when droppings are removed during coop cleaning.

Identification

A person infected with either of these diseases, will exhibit flu-like symptoms. If left untreated, the diseases may progress to pneumonia and even death. Those who are infected with histoplasmosis may also become blind.

Solution

It is important to regularly clean out chicken coops when droppings are fresh. The spores from the fungi are more readily dispersed once the droppings dry out.

Prevention

When cleaning out a chicken coop, use the right equipment to reduce exposure to disease causing organisms. Misting the coop with a hose before excrement removal to reduce dust and airborne spores. Wearing a full-face respirator is advisable, as a dust mask does not afford the same protection.

Disposal

Chicken droppings should be disposed of properly, which includes either burying the waste or incinerating it.

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