11 Years
Mar 15, 2008
Does anyone ever worry about this with their children? My daughters LOVE playing with our chickens, so I am wondering.
They have a terrible cough right now, but so does everyone else we know, so I am not too worried.

Just wondering if anyone had any thoughts about this...
Considering the millions of chicken keepers out there and the rarity of the problem, I would say you have better odds of being run over by a horse, while jaywalking on a one way street, on a thursday afternoon.
I've seen many cases of histo as an eye doc. It can get into the eye and the resultant inflammation can be catastrophic, especially in the central retina, resulting in permanent vision loss.

Here is what the National Institute of Health has to say:
"Histoplasmosis is a disease caused when airborne spores of the fungus Histoplasma capsulatum are inhaled into the lungs, the primary infection site. This microscopic fungus, which is found throughout the world in river valleys and soil where bird or bat droppings accumulate, is released into the air when soil is disturbed by plowing fields, sweeping chicken coops, or digging holes.

Histoplasmosis is often so mild that it produces no apparent symptoms. Any symptoms that might occur are often similar to those from a common cold. In fact, if you had histoplasmosis symptoms, you might dismiss them as those from a cold or flu, since the body's immune system normally overcomes the infection in a few days without treatment.

However, histoplasmosis, even mild cases, can later cause a serious eye disease called ocular histoplasmosis syndrome (OHS), a leading cause of vision loss in Americans ages 20 to 40."

Now...the odds are certainly that your daughter currently has a common cold. It is the right time of year, after all. I would, however weigh the joy of chicken ownership against the odds of acquiring histoplasmosis. In my case, as a first time grandfather to be, I will allow my grandchild to play with the chickens, but not likely inside the coop (instead, out in the open air). I will certainly not allow any handling of poop or playing around any area where there is the potential for spores to be fluffed up (and inhaled) around areas that are dense in droppings. A safer place would be in a dry open space.

Interestingly, though not caused by a fungus--as with histo--but all parents should be aware of toxoplasmosis as well! Keep your kids away from the kitty litter box; and by all means, if you are pregnant, use caution around the litter box, as well as dog poop!


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