Bird droppings are extremely dangerous. They can carry all kinds of infectious diseases and parasites. They are especially dangerous when dried, because fine particles can be released into the air and then aspirated (inhaled). If you are going to handle them you should wear gloves and a mask and wash thoroughly afterwards. As with all infectious agents, young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are particularly vulnerable.
Histoplasmosis is a fungal disease contracted through airborne spores in pigeon droppings. If pigeons have been on your roof for a while, these spores can even infect the soil in your garden down below. Its symptoms may be anything from a mild influenza to blood abnormalities and fever, or even death. An eye condition has been linked to the bird disease histoplasmosis and can lead to blindness in those who contract it.
Candidiasis 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, especially the vagina. It is a growing problem for women, causing itching, pain and discharge.
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. Since attics, cupolas, ledges, schools, offices, warehouses, mills, barns, park buildings, signs, etc. are typical roosting and nesting sites, the fungus is apt to found in these areas.
St. Louis Encephalitis, an inflammation of the nervous system, usually causes drowsiness, headache and fever. It may even result in paralysis, coma or death. St. Louis encephalitis occurs in all age groups, but is especially fatal to persons over age 60. The disease is spread by mosquitoes which have fed on infected house sparrow, pigeons and house finches carrying the Group B virus responsible for St. Louis encephalitis.
Salmonellosis often occurs as "food poisoning" and can be traced to pigeons, starlings and sparrows. The disease bacteria are found in bird droppings; dust from droppings can be sucked through ventilators and air conditioners, contaminating food and cooking surfaces in restaurants, homes and food processing plants.
E.coli. Cattle carry E. coli 0157:H7. When birds peck on cow manure, the E. coli go right through the birds and the bird droppings can land on or in a food or water supply.
Besides being direct carriers of disease, nuisance birds are frequently associated with over 50 kinds of ectoparasites, which can work their way throughout structures to infest and bite humans. About two-thirds of these pests may be detrimental to the general health and well-being of humans and domestic animals. The rest are considered nuisance or incidental pests. A few examples of ectoparasites include:
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) may consume up to five times their own weight in blood drawn from hosts which include humans and some domestic animals. In any extreme condition, victims may become weak and anemic. Pigeons, starlings and house sparrows are known to carry bed bugs.
Chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) are known carriers of encephalitis and may also cause fowl mite dermatitis and acariasis. While they subsist on blood drawn from a variety of birds, they may also attack humans. They have been found on pigeons, starlings and house sparrows.
Yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor), perhaps the most common beetle parasites of people in the United States, live in pigeon nests. It is found in grain or grain products, often winding up in breakfast cereals, and may cause intestinal canthariasis and hymenolespiasis.
West Nile Virus while West Nile is technically not transmitted to humans from birds, humans can get infected by the bite of a mosquito who has bitten an infected bird. The obvious lesson is that the fewer birds there are in any given area, the better. This translates into a smaller chance of an infected bird in that area, a smaller chance of a mosquito biting an infected bird and then biting a human.
Pigeon control is not an impossible matter, many homeowners and city municipalities have employed successful integrated pigeon management programs to reduce populations, thus hindering the physical, economic, and health damages associated with these pest birds. The most common misconception the public has is that pigeon control does not work. I am sure as you travel around town you notice bird netting on the top of gas station canopy's or pigeons resting on top of bird spikes on the roofs of residential property's. These are signs that the bird work was not done properly or the right program was not put into place before the exclusion work was done, thus the situation staying the same or in some cases getting worse. Our job is to educate the public that it is not the products that do not work it is actually products that work being applied to the wrong areas or situations, some products are not made to be used on all areas. There are many products, sizes and determining factors when it comes to pigeon exclusions. Be sure that if you have pigeon exclusions performed that the company is certified to do that work and that the right products are being applied to the right areas.
Live trapping to get rid of and reduce pigeon flock size is always recommended before a exclusion program is performed on commercial and residential structures depending on the severity of the problem. This will help to remove all the pigeons that are already nesting there and leave nothing to come back to the area that was excluded.
Bird netting (stealth netting) or stainless steel wire mesh fencing can be used to get rid of pigeons by excluding them from their typical roosting sites. This can be expensive but it is one of the most effective deterrents available. If pigeons cannot roost nearby your property, they are likely to move on, and establish a larger community elsewhere. Wire mesh, screening, or bird netting may be hung under eves, in lofts, and anywhere else pigeons have been known to roost.
Bird wire and spiders are also a very effective bird deterrent. This treatment prevents pigeons from landing on rails, roof edges, roof peaks and chimney tops.
Chemical pigeon control (Avitrol) is also very affective. Avitrol is a controlled product so it is a expensive program and is not used for all situations. This type of control is usually used for commercial use. If you would like more information on this type of treatment or would like to know if this type of treatment is right for you please call our office.