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Time for more awareness of bird fancier’s industrial disease

23rd July 2012

Thoughts of asbestos lagging, coal mines and vibrating machinery more readily spring to mind, and while this is of course accurate, it is worth bearing in mind that industrial disease can take many different forms – something any experienced solicitor, whether in West Sussex or West Lothian, will be able to attest to.

Bird Fancier’s Lung or Farmer’s Lung (medical name extrinsic allergic alveolitis) is a type of industrial illness caused by exposure to bird droppings and results in inflammation of the lungs and a range of respiratory symptoms. The condition can be severe and result in a significant lessening of life quality. Sometimes, it may even be fatal.

A coroner’s court recently provided a tragic reminder of the hazards of this lesser known industrial disease when it ruled on the death of a former farm worker from Crewe.

“We have heard that over the years [this farm worker] was exposed to a number of antigens and as a result, he developed this condition, allergic alveolitis,” said the coroner.

“What we don’t know is which of the allergies had most effect. We have heard very clearly that how, after continued exposure, he developed the lung diseases associated with his occupation, and there’s no doubt that these led him to his death. There’s a very clear association with occupation and the development of his subsequent lung disease. He died of an industrial disease.”

It is clear that more awareness is needed of this industrial disease and solicitors all over the country, from Chichester and Bognor to Chester and Bangor have a role to play in ensuring this happens.

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