Bird-Egg Syndrome

This is a simplified explanation of Bird-Egg Syndrome – there are more resources available at the bottom of the page for further reading for those who are interested in knowing more.

What does this term mean?

An individual can be sensitised to chicken serum albumin allergens by either eating eggs or by allergic reactions to feathers or bird droppings. This sensitisation will cause a small portion of those people allergic to eggs and feathers to begin to have allergic reactions to the ingestion of poultry meat like chicken, duck and turkey.

The sensitising bird feathers or droppings do not need to be from an edible bird, like chickens, ducks and turkeys. An individual can be sensitised from household avian pets, like budgies, parakeets and lovebirds.

Why are the symptoms of this syndrome?

Allergy to foods containing serum albumins have a wide range of symptoms and severity including urticaria (hives or welts), angioedema (swelling under the skin), nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting or breathlessness and anaphylactic shock.

What is the allergen that causes these reactions?

Serum albumin proteins are found in mammalian and poultry meats. Different species of animals have slightly different proteins, e.g. bovine serum albumin and ovine serum albumin (where bovine means cows and ovine means sheep). Serum albumin proteins are also very common in humans. They are similarly shaped enough for some people with this allergy to have allergic reactions to all foods containing the same proteins.

Serum albumin proteins are thermolabile, which means they are easily broken down by heating and processing.

Lots of research may also refer to this allergen as alpha livetin and is associated with being a main allergen in the yellow egg yolk of poultry eggs.

An allergy to mammalian meats is more likely to be caused by Alpha Gal Syndrome, than by an allergy to serum albumins. These allergic reactions are delayed in comparison to the usual immediate IgE allergic reactions, so are easy to distinguish.

Which foods do I need to avoid?

You need to avoid eating bird eggs and poultry meat if you suffer from Bird-Egg Syndrome.

What is the importance of knowing whether this is Bird-Egg Syndrome or a more general poultry and egg allergy?

Multiple allergies are becoming more common and this often leads people to impose a strict restrictive diet on themselves. This can lead to a poor diet lacking in essential nutrients and frustration over a lack of eating options. Knowing exactly which allergens and foods cause your reactions can bring certain food groups bacck into your diet.

This is why food diaries continue to be an important tool in diagnosis of your allergies – noting the times reactions took place and what medications were taken are a necessary starting point for a proper diagnosis.

Click here for a free to download food diary with tips on how to complete or follow the link to the paperback Allergy Resources Food Diary.


Allergen Encyclopedia - Chicken feathers

Allergen Encyclopedia - Chicken eggs

ECARF - Chicken Egg Allergy

Articles and Journals

Bird-Egg syndrome diagnosed by ImmunoCap ISAC, 2023

Albumins represent highly cross-reactive animal allergens, 2023

Research progress on the allergic mechanism, molecular properties, and immune cross-reactivity of the egg allergen Gal d 5, 2023

Egg allergy in atopic dermatitis patients-analysis of results of specific extract IgE and specific IgE to molecular components. Bird-egg syndrome, 2020

Bird-egg syndrome induced by α-livetin sensitization in a budgerigar keeper: Successful induction of tolerance by avoiding exposure to avians, 2018

Update on the bird-egg syndrome and genuine poultry meat allergy, 2016

Serum albumins - unusual allergens, 2013

Bird-egg syndrome caused by Agapornis species (lovebird), 2009

Chicken serum albumin (Gal d 5) is a partially heat-labile inhalant and food allergen implicated in the bird-egg syndrome,2001

Let me know if you found any of these interesting or useful. If you spot an article or research that you think is interesting you can message me or tag me on Facebook or Twitter - links at the bottom of the page.

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