When it comes to birds, there may be more than just avian flu to be worried about. It has been suggested that there are over 60 other diseases infected birds and their droppings can carry.
Birds and their droppings can pose a serious health risk. Bird feces can effect food or water supply, leading to food poisoning. Some risks even come with the potential to become deadly.
Lack of bird control can also cause substantial property damage and liability issues for commercial facilities, particularly those dealing in consumables, such as food processing plants. The most serious health risks arise from disease organisms that can grow in the nutrient-rich accumulations of bird droppings, feathers and debris.
Not only are bird droppings an unsightly mess that can be difficult to remove and cause slip-and-fall accidents, they also harbor numerous human pathogens.
However, just how dangerous are bird droppings to human health? The question seems simple but quantifying a human’s risk of acquiring disease from a bird or its droppings is difficult since exposure to the pathogens does not always result in disease and most bird-related zoonotic diseases are not reportable to health authorities.
Even dried bird droppings pose a risk. Examples of transmissible bird diseases associated with pigeons, geese, starling and house sparrows:
Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease that may be fatal. It results from a fungus growing in dried bird droppings and in nesting sites. Most people with histoplasmosis never develop symptoms and aren’t aware they’re infected. But for some people — mainly infants and those with weakened immune systems — histoplasmosis can be serious. Treatments are available for even the most severe forms of histoplasmosis.
Candidiasis falls under the umbrella of fungal diseases and is a yeast or fungus infection spread by pigeons. The disease affects the skin, the mouth, the respiratory system, the intestines and the urogenital tract.
Cryptococcosis is caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings. The illness often begins as a pulmonary disease and may later affect the central nervous system. Although, it is unlikely that healthy people will become infected even at high levels of exposure. A major risk factor for infection is a compromised immune system.
Bird management should never be taken lightly, for a variety of reasons. When cleanup of an area is required, proper protective equipment should always be used.
For more information about the health effects of pigeon-related diseases, refer to your physician. If you have any questions regarding the health effects of the removal of pigeon feces, you may contact National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health or visit them at http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html.