Birdsafe California Bird Nerds
James Harris, DVM

Is it okay to share room with bird?

I'm considering letting my daughters keep our cockatiel in their bedroom, but I'm not sure it's a good idea, health-wise. Is it okay to sleep in the same room as a bird, or should the cage stay in the living room?

--Cathy Bready, San Carlos, Calif.

It is probably not a good idea for the bird to be in the room where your children sleep.

Some parrots, including cockatiels, cockatoos, African greys and Amazons, produce more dander, or feather dust, than others. Some people who are frequently exposed to bird dander can develop a condition called allergic alveolitis, a progressive lung disease. It has been estimated that 8 percent of the budgie owners in Great Britain have this problem, also called "bird fancier's lung."

People who spend a lot of time around pigeons, poultry, canaries and other birds can develop this allergy, too. Some sufferers become so sensitive they must avoid all feathers and cannot eat poultry products, such as eggs.

Anyone who works with or owns birds and develops a chronic cough should see a doctor to rule out alveolitis.

Dr. James Harris James Harris, DVM is owner and medical director of the Mayfair Veterinary Clinic in Sandy Bay, Tasmania, Australia. He founded Montclair Veterinary Hospital in Oakland, Calif., and has served as medical director and chairman of the board for the International Bird Rescue Research Center in Berkeley. Dr. Harris' numerous professional honors include California and National Bustad Companion Animal DVM Awards. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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