Lebanon parents still worry about possible pigeon contamination as son recovers

LEBANON, Ind. – A Lebanon boy is finally home after battling an infection that at one point led him to be put in isolation and on dialysis as his kidneys failed.

Based on conversations with doctors at Riley Hospital for Children, Preston Reagan’s family believes he likely picked up the cryptosporidium infection from their neighbor’s 200-bird pigeon coop.

Although Preston is now up and walking, his dad Nathan is still concerned he, his brother and his grandmother, who doctors also determined were carrying the parasite, could still be re-infected by the parasite. Nathan is especially worried since doctors told the family Preston needs to run around and play as much as possible to regain his strength.

So for now, they’re not going back home.

“They need to go and play outside,” said Nathan. “I don’t want to take him back over there and risking him to get sick again.”

A Boone County Health Department administrator, Cindy Murphy, says their environmental health inspection showed no public health risk or emergency. However, despite the department previously saying it’s not likely the parasite came from the pigeons, Murphy says the communicable disease investigation to determine for sure, is still incomplete.

But still, she believes it’s safe for Preston and his family to go home.

“I wouldn’t have any reservations at all with him going back into his home and that environment,” said Murphy. “No reservations at all.”

Graham says he thinks without results, he doesn’t know if that’s the best messaging.

“I think they would be better served to say the investigation is still ongoing and that we don’t know,” said Shawn Graham, a family friend of the Reagans. “Maybe that will try to keep people from that area.”

The Reagans’ neighbor had 200 pigeons in a coop which partially hung over their yard until a couple weeks ago.

After Preston came down with the infection, but hadn’t been around farm animals, the Reagans say doctors pointed to the pigeons as a likely source.

That led to a series of complaints to the city, which led them to find the neighbor in violation of the city’s domestic animal ordinance given the number of birds he had.

CBS4 spoke to the neighbor who confirmed he sold, gave away or released all 200 birds to fulfill the city’s orders. He expects the health department’s investigation will show his pigeons weren’t responsible.

But until anyone knows for certain, right now the pigeons are spread out and the Reagans and others aren’t positive the yard their kids would play in if they moved back home, isn’t contaminated.

“Criptosoppordium, which is the parasite that Preston had, can live in the environment for many months,” Shawn Graham said. “It’s very hearty. Even cleaning agents won’t get rid of it.”

The investigation is currently in the “incubation” period. The county’s report has already been filed with the State Department of Health, but final results could take some time.

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