Understanding Chicken Allergy: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Context: Poultry meat allergies are rarely discussed in scientific literature The few reports typically concern patients who have allergies to feathers or eggs.

Goal: Two patients without any other food allergies who had a documented history of monovalent ingestive allergies to chicken and turkey meat were examined. The relevant allergens were to be identified by immunoblotting.

Methods: Specific IgE determination (CAP) and skin tests were used to evaluate both patients. Allergens were identified by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting. Testing for cross-reactivity between turkey and chicken meat was done using IgE inhibition experiments.

Results: Both patients tested positive for chicken and turkey on skin tests and specific IgE. There have been reports of cross-reactivities between duck and goose meat and other poultry meats. There was no evidence of sensitization to chicken feathers or egg components. The molecular weights of 13, 27, and 33 kDa (faint bands) and 21, 23, and 50 kDa (distinct bands) of poultry meat were found to contain allergenic proteins. Turkey’s additional band at 91 kDa is most likely not a separate allergenic epitope. Immunoblot inhibition confirmed cross-reactivity of chicken and turkey meat allergens.

In conclusion, a food allergy involving poultry meat is a unique condition that exhibits cross-reactivity with other poultry as well as chicken. The relevant allergens were identified by immunoblotting. Since the patients were able to tolerate eggs and egg products, it is unlikely that they had a food allergy related to egg components.

What is a Chicken Allergy?

A chicken allergy is an adverse immune response triggered by consuming chicken or its byproducts. While not as common as other food allergies, it can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms in individuals.

Connection to Egg Allergy:

Many cases of chicken allergy are linked to egg allergies. This phenomenon, known as bird-egg syndrome, means that those with egg allergies might experience similar reactions when consuming chicken. This connection stems from an allergy to a specific substance found in both egg yolk and chicken serum albumin (alpha-livetin).

Case Studies:

Research has documented instances of individuals allergic to chicken but not eggs, though the cause remains unclear Additionally, a study reported a case of an individual developing egg allergy symptoms after contact with a parrot, with positive skin tests for egg yolk, egg white, livetin, and mixed feathers.

Symptom Onset and Duration:

Symptoms of a chicken allergy can occur within minutes or up to several hours after exposure. They may worsen or lessen with repeated exposure but typically clear up once contact with chicken ceases.

Common Symptoms:

  • Skin: Urticaria (hives), redness, rash
  • Gastrointestinal: Nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps
  • Respiratory: Runny or stuffy nose, mild fever, wheezing, difficulty breathing
  • Severe Cases: Anaphylaxis (rare)


Diagnosis involves allergy testing, either through a blood test or an elimination test. A blood test measures specific IgE antibodies in your blood, indicating high levels if you’re allergic. An elimination test requires removing chicken and its byproducts from your diet for two to four weeks. If symptoms subside, it suggests a chicken allergy.


Treatment options include:

  • Antihistamines: For symptom relief
  • Cortisone Creams: For hives and inflammation
  • Inhaled Corticosteroids: For breathing problems
  • Epinephrine Injection: For severe allergic reactions

Alternatives to Chicken and Egg Protein:

If you’re allergic to chicken and/or eggs, consider these protein alternatives:

  • Tofu
  • Vegetable Broth
  • Veal
  • Soy Protein
  • Fish
  • Pork
  • Beans
  • Beef

Frequently Asked Questions:

Can I be allergic to chicken but not turkey?

While possible, it’s less common. Consult an allergist for a definitive diagnosis.

How do I know if I’m allergic or just intolerant?

An allergy test can differentiate between an allergy and intolerance. Avoid chicken regardless of intolerance.

How is a chicken allergy diagnosed?

An allergy test is used for diagnosis.

How is a chicken allergy treated?

Treatment options include antihistamines, cortisone creams, inhaled corticosteroids, and epinephrine injections.

How rare is a chicken allergy?

Chicken allergy is relatively rare and under-documented. While severe cases are documented, research doesn’t account for mild, unreported cases.

If I’m allergic to chicken, can I eat other types of bird?

Consult an allergist for a comprehensive food allergy diagnosis.

Is chicken allergy curable?

No, there is no cure for chicken allergy.

When do people develop a chicken allergy?

Chicken allergy can develop in both children and adults, with symptoms sometimes appearing as early as 3 years old.

Why are people allergic to chicken?

Most chicken allergies are linked to egg allergies.

Additional Information:

For more information or to schedule an appointment with an allergist, contact NY Allergy & Sinus Centers at (212) 686-6321.


This information is intended for general knowledge and does not constitute medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare professional for diagnosis and treatment of any health condition.

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