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Darwin's Illness$
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Ralph Colp Jr.

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780813032313

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813032313.001.0001

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The Possibility of Illness from Pigeon Allergens

The Possibility of Illness from Pigeon Allergens

(p.155) 23 The Possibility of Illness from Pigeon Allergens
Darwin's Illness

Ralph Colp Jr. M.D.

University Press of Florida

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

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