Do Pigeons cause diseases?
Pigeon droppings are not only unsightly; their
acid content can eat into soft stone and cause
long-term damage to buildings. The nest droppings,
and feathers also block gutters and rainwater
pipes causing water damage. Their droppings
can lead to severe hazards on
pavements, especially for the elderly, and
can carry pathogenic organisms. Pigeons can
carry a number of potentially infectious diseases
such as salmonella, tuberculosis and ornithosis
(a mild form of psittacosis - pneumonia-like
symptoms). They are also a source of allergens,
which can cause respiratory ailments like
pigeon fancier's lung and allergic skin reaction.
There is potential for these illnesses to
be spread to people through contact with pigeon
droppings, dandruff and feathers; pigeon parasites;
or where dead infected pigeons get into food
or water sources.
What is the life cyle of a pigeon?
The feral pigeon is capable of breeding
throughout the year and nests may be found
in any month, however the peak occurs between
March and July. Usually, two white eggs
are laid on consecutive days. Incubation
lasts about 18 days with fledging taking
place about 4 ½ weeks later. A new clutch
can be laid when the first young are 20
days old. Therefore up to nine broods may
be produced per year by just one female
Does exclusion work?
Total proofing against all birds can only
be guaranteed by the closure of all openings
bigger than 20mm in diameter.Pigeon proofing
includes simple tasks like sealing gaps
under eaves and replacing missing roof tiles
Pigeons can be deterred from using common
and roosting sites such as window ledges
and roofs by fitting stainless steel wires
suspended and sprung at the correct height
to prevent the birds from landing. Other
commonly-available deterrents to the feral
pigeon include barrier gel, spikes and bird
How many diseases to pigeons carry?
More than 60 transmissible bird diseases
(some of which are fatal) are associated
with geese, pigeons, starlings and house
sparrows. For example:
Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease
that may be fatal. It results from a fungus
growing in dried bird droppings. 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
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