According to the British Pest Control Association, up to 49 per cent of feral pigeons could carry infectious diseases that can be passed to humans.
Recently, this species has proven increasingly problematic in urban areas where it seeks food, shelter and places to nest. As a result, the risk of pigeons spreading disease in the human population has also increased.
What diseases do pigeons carry?
Pigeons are known to carry a range of diseases such as E.coli, which is spread when their droppings land in food or water consumed by humans.
Other diseases such as histoplasmosis, candidiasis and salmonellosis can be transmitted through pigeon droppings, usually by a fungus that grows inside the faeces.
St Louis encephalitis (SLE) is also given to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos become infected when they feed on birds that have the virus in their blood.
Can you get sick from pigeons?
If a person is exposed to pigeon droppings, either through particles in the air or contaminated water and food, there is a chance that they will get sick. In most cases, exposure will result in minor symptoms unless the individual is immunocompromised, resulting in a more severe reaction.
If you do come into contact with pigeon droppings, it is advisable to thoroughly clean your hands and any exposed skin before eating, drinking or putting your hands near your mouth.
Are pigeon droppings dangerous?
Pigeon droppings often carry fungi, such as Cryptococcus, that can cause people to become ill. In those with weakened immune systems, it can be fatal. Several diseases can be spread by droppings, such as:
E.coli: When droppings land in food or water consumed by humans, e.coli can occur, causing cramps, nausea and fever.
Candidiasis: This is a condition that is caused by a fungus growing in droppings. It can affect the human respiratory system as well as the skin, mouth and intestines.
Histoplasmosis: Another respiratory disease that can occur when fungus grows in pigeon droppings and is inhaled. If contracted by humans, it can be fatal.
Salmonellosis: Often referred to as food poisoning, this disease spreads via pigeon droppings that have turned to dust and contaminated food.
Can pigeons spread diseases to humans?
Put simply, yes, pigeons can spread diseases to humans.
The majority of illnesses pass from pigeons to people through their droppings. However, one of the most notable diseases that feral pigeons are infected with is Chlamydia psittaci – referred to as ornithosis in humans. Humans commonly catch the disease by inhaling dust containing feathers, secretions and droppings.
Once a human has been infected, it can cause various symptoms ranging from being feverish, sweating, severe weakness, headaches, and blurred vision. In more severe cases, it can lead to pneumonia and possibly death.
Other diseases from pigeons can be spread to humans through small airborne particles in the droppings that enter the respiratory system or if droppings enter drinking water and human food sources.
The risk that infected pigeons pose to the human population means that ensuring they are not allowed to enter and nest in urban spaces has never been more important.
Leisure centres, shopping centres, factories and warehouses are just some of the larger commercial areas at risk from pigeon pest problems.
If allowed to congregate and nest, the health of the public and those working in these spaces will be put at risk, which is why bird pest control is so important.
Pigeon Pest Control
UK law protects all manner of wild birds, including pigeons, but with the risk they pose to public health, it is important they are properly managed.
For over 25 years, the team at Urban Hawks has provided bird control solutions throughout the North West to stop the spread of disease.
If you are concerned about pigeons causing damage or posing health risks at your site, and wish to know how to get rid of birds, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us today.