The Possibility of Illness from Pigeon Allergens

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

in Darwin's Illness

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2008 | ISBN: 9780813032313
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039237 | DOI:
The Possibility of Illness from Pigeon Allergens

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In a footnote in Darwin on Man, it was suggested that Charles Darwin may have become ill because of “a severe allergy, possibly to pigeons, with which Darwin associated much”. However, there is no evidence that he was allergic to pigeons. Every day, from 1856 through 1858, he would go to the aviary and closely examine the pigeons. Yet his illness was subacute and did not become especially severe. He does not seem to have been exposed to pigeons during the very severe exacerbations of his illness (1839–42, 1848–49, 1863–64, and 1865). In addition, the main symptoms of his illness were not similar to the symptoms of pigeon allergy.

Keywords: Charles Darwin; pigeons; allergens; allergy; aviary; illness

Chapter.  368 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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