Immunocompromised owners of chickens (advice needed)

Discussion in 'Managing Your Flock' started by Rachaellynn11, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. Rachaellynn11

    Rachaellynn11 New Egg

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    Mar 4, 2014
    Hi!
    I know this may be a strange question, but I thought people would know here [​IMG]


    I have had a lot of health problems and recently found out that I have a severely weakened immune system. That's not going to change either, I have a flock of 16 pet chickens, a bunny, and a goose. I LOVE being outside and being in my garden. I have read that birds can cause different sicknesses in people. I figure if I start wearing a mask and gloves when I take care of them I should be okay, right?

    Is there anyone else out there that has immunity issues that have any advice?
    I want to put my health first, but I couldn't imagine giving up my little farm [​IMG]


    Thanks!!!
     
  2. You shouldn't need to wear a mask, but I would wash my hands thoroughly before & after, as well as don't kiss them or anything :)P). However, I would consult your doctor and see what s/he feels.

    When cleaning coops, always wear gloves & mask however when your going to just hang out with them I wouldn't feel the need for a mask & gloves. When handling their feces (ie, dirty food pans, dirty water pans, mucking) I would wear gloves and the like.


    Like I said, I would consult your doctor. But gloves & mask are a good idea whenever cleaning or handling feces, and wash hands thoroughly.
     
  3. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    [​IMG] from a Rachel!

    I had chemo last year and they purposefully knocked my immune system down to literally nothing. It was a huge adjustment for me! I have a small homestead with chickens, ducks, and horses, plus the assorted barn cats and our dogs. I had a good chat with my doctor about exactly what I could and couldn't do. This is going to depend on how compromised your immune system is, and why it's compromised. During intense chemo, I didn't do any livestock care. No going in a coop, no handling hay or feed, no cleaning of poop, nothing! I could stroke my horse under my honey's direct supervision [​IMG] and that was it. No smelling her, no brushing, nada.

    That was pretty extreme.


    As my immune system recovered, I worked with my hematologist at each stage to see what I would be safe to do. I brought up specific tasks, I didn't want a "use your judgment" kind of answer, cause I don't always have the best judgment with things like this. I asked...can I go in the coop? can I pour a bag of feed? What's my risk of being exposed to feathers/hair/dust? Exactly when do I need to wear a mask? Can I toss flakes of hay? Muck out stalls? Dump clean shavings in the coop? Clean out dirty bedding from the coop? etc etc. I got very detailed. I wanted a good knowledge of what I could do and what was likely to land me in the hospital.

    So, you need to have a chat with your doctor. Describe your desired lifestyle and see what needs to be adjusted. The things they were worried about most for me was inhaling dusts, mold, spores...respiratory issues. I'd keep a mask handy and pop it on during those times when you're exposed, but I don't think you'd need to wear it all the time. Gloves--only if handling poop or other nasty things. Not for routine handling, unless you've got cuts or other avenues of exposure on your hands. My doc said I was actually far less at risk working from my animals than being out among people! You'll also need do discuss your garden--that was off limits for me last year, due to spores/fungi/etc.
     
  4. Rachaellynn11

    Rachaellynn11 New Egg

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    Mar 4, 2014
    Thanks Rachel

    Its a tough life adjustment. I have to quit my volunteer jobs at the hospital, school, and homeless shelter. I work at a retirement community and I have to wear a mask, and have to stay away from direct contact with them. Its going to be a big adjustment. I was given some basic advice about outside. Like wearing gloves and masks. I guess the main thing right now is being in people populated areas. Like I said with all my life's passions being taken away, I cant imagine not being able to be out on our farm.

    Congrats on beating the cancer and working through that, I am sorry you had to deal with that. Hope you are back to 100% and back to your critters.

    Thanks for your advice, It was very helpful.

    Rachael
     
  5. donrae

    donrae Hopelessly Addicted Premium Member

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    I know what you mean. I was thrilled to be told I couldn't go to Wal-Mart, but to find I couldn't go in the barn......[​IMG]
     
  6. Ponyfeather

    Ponyfeather Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Wash you hands often, maybe hire someone to clean up after them if you are sick. Wash them often?
    Honestly my mom has immune issues but I haven't seen her have issues being around out many animals. But she is very on top of cleaning her hands after being around them.
    I'd say to a degree having the animals might help keep your immune system keep from breaking down even more as long as you practice good hygiene.

    But also speak with your doctor. Things that need to be taken in to account is how long has it been like this? Because if it seems like it has been like this for quiet awhile I don't think the animals are going to hurt you anytime soon. Unless you have been getting sick often recently.

    Is your immune system like this because of a medical treatment? Because then it is something to worry about, you are going to need to be careful.

    I'd say make list of tasks and bring it to the doctor over seeing your care. See what they say is safe and what isn't.
     

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