Unusual Allergies – Poultry

Allergy to Poultry is well documented and has been known to cause anaphylaxis and airbourne reactions.  The main protein thought to be responsible is Chicken serum albumin (which is identical to alpha livetin found in egg yolk).

This is a partially heat-labile allergen (partially damaged by heat); Small studies have shown that IgE reactivity to Chicken albumin was reduced by 88% after heating at 90 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes.

There is some anecdotal evidence of those unable to eat cooked fresh chicken, but being able to eat chicken which has been fully frozen before being thawed, cooked and eaten. This can be explained by a protein shape change caused by freezing or by cooking for an extended period, essentially damaging the protein so it cannot cause a reaction.

The alpha livetin protein is partially heat labile, so some sufferers will only get reactions from raw chicken and others may get reactions depending on how high a temperature the meat was cooked at and how long for.

Airbourne Reactions

Again, from the Facebook Allergy Groups there is anecdotal evidence of poultry causing eyes to swell closed from handling raw and cooked poultry, so this is a concern and should be avoided if your reaction is this severe. This is of particular concern for people who have allergic asthma or respond to certain allergens with breathing problems.

Potential Cross-Reactivity

In Chicken-allergic patients there have been reports of cross reactions from Parrot, Budgerigar, Chicken, Pigeon, Goose and Duck.

Other members of this group of birds include wildfowl such as pheasants and partridges and commonly eaten birds such as quail and turkey.


Are chicken and egg allergy linked?

This is not an entirely crazy question as one comes from the other. This is sometimes called Bird-Egg Syndrome.

Bird-Egg Syndrome is well studied; it is described as a patient with a poultry allergy who becomes sensitised to birds eggs.

This new sensitivity to egg is to the proteins in egg yolk, alpha livetin (gal d 5), which is found in both chickens and eggs.

Commonly, IgE allergy to egg is usually from the egg white (proteins gal d 1 to 4), so whilst people who are allergic to chickens can become intolerant or allergic to egg, it doesn’t usually work the other way around due to the different proteins involved.

What about feathers?

Inhalable feather dust contains several allergenic components, which cross-react with serum allergens and with similar bird species.

Allergy to bird feathers is not as common as thought in commercial products, after intense production, washing and drying at high temperatures most of the allergenic proteins are removed.

Unprocessed feathers and exposure to the living birds may contain allergens to bird serum proteins (which can cause problems in those allergic to ingesting poultry), bird faeces and feather mites.

Studies have shown that people with egg allergies are unlikely to be allergic to feathers due to the different proteins involved. 

Diagnosis and Management

Diagnosis for poultry allergy can be diagnosed through skin prick tests and IgE blood tests.

As with most allergies symptoms can be managed by avoidance of the offending food or bird by-product.

If you think you suffer from any of these allergies you should seek medical advice from your GP, allergist or dietician

References and Further Reading





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3 Responses to Unusual Allergies – Poultry

  1. Louise says:

    I think FPIES to poultry should get a mention here it is a pretty common trigger for children with this severe delayed food allergy. My son with fpies vomits profusely and becomes blue and lethargic 2 hours after eating poultry.

  2. I am extremely allergic to poultry but can eat cooked eggs with no issue. However I have had strong reactions to foods that use a large amount of yolks (which usually aren’t fully cooked) Key Lime pie, Hollandaise sauce…etc. That seems to fit what you have in the article.

  3. Pingback: 2017 Family Allergy Update | Itch, swell, ooze and wheeze

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