Environmental pollution from bird feces can cause disease in humans. One of the most common diseases is a systemic fungal infection called ‘cryptococcus’, and the disease is spread through pigeon droppings. These diseases are known as avian and can be transmissible to humans in fungal, bacterial or viral infections.
Cryptococcosis is a disease that is most often spread when the victim inhales the yeast-like fungus. Exposure to older pigeon droppings or nests can result in human exposure, and the condition manifests as meningitis or meningoencephalitis. You may notice a pulmonary infection with fever, cough and general lethargy at the onset. This disease is typically chronic, and you will likely spit blood from the respiratory tract, followed by headache, visual issues and a stiff neck.
Inhalation of spores produced by mould from pigeon droppings is another disease that can affect humans. The incubation period is 7-14 days and can manifest in three ways (acute pulmonary, chronic cavitary pulmonary and disseminated), with disseminated being fatal if not treated. The other forms are influenza-like and can last up to several weeks. Chills, chest pain, cough, fever, and malaise are some of the symptoms and can become chronic in the elderly or very young.
This is an infection produced by a type of mould. The fungus produces toxins which poison the victim’s blood. Pigeons assist the spread of the spores in airborne dust. Most people breathe these spores daily without getting sick, but many people with weakened immune systems or with lung diseases are at a high risk.
What Science Tells Us
Pigeons do carry human pathogens. Feral pigeons carry 60 different microorganisms that are capable of causing human disease. Fungi account for the majority of these, with bacteria and viruses and protozoan (parasites) causing the others. Transmission is mostly restricted to people with weakened immune systems, but if you are living in close association with pigeons, or near long-standing roosts, they can still pose a significant health risk.
Special Safety Precautions
Special safety precautions must be taken both indoors and out to reduce the risk from normal day to day contact with pigeons in parks, yards, balconies, buildings, and should not be tolerated in areas around hospitals, nursing homes or clinics. Dust that is inhaled containing the organisms which cause disease must be sanitized by professional pest control agents. Call Harlow Pest Control in Edmonton, Alberta for a full inspection and sanitizing remedy or bird removal at (780)-757-2999 or toll-free at 1.855.757.2999.