Birds have long been a fascinating creature to humans. Their unique colors and songs have people bird watching around the globe. However, although birds are beautiful and beneficial creatures, they can also be harmful to humans, especially when they invade our homes. Birds are known to carry more than 60 diseases in their bodies and droppings, most of which are airborne and easily transferable to humans. In fact, humans can contract these diseases just by being near their droppings, making birds especially worrisome when they nest in or around your home. In order to help you better understand the danger of having birds nest near your home, I have compiled a short list of the diseases they carry, as well as how you can prevent them from entering your home.
Bird droppings contain high levels of nitrogen and can grow fungus. This fungus releases spores into the air that can pass the disease to humans once inhaled. One of the most prevalent of these diseases is histoplasmosis, a respiratory disease that can be fatal. Symptoms include fever, chills, coughing, chest pain, joint pain, mouth sores, and red skin bumps called erythema nodosum.
Found in pigeons, candidiasis is a yeast fungus infection that effects the skin, mouth, respiratory system, intestines, and urogenital tract. The disease has become a growing problem for women, causing itching, pain, and discharge. Symptoms include digestive issues, skin irritation, skin and nail infections, fatigue, and irritability.
Cryptococcosis is a potentially fatal fungal disease caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings. When these bird's nest in attics, garages, and offices, the fungus from their droppings can infect people in the area through the air. The illness begins as a pulmonary disease and can later affect the central nervous system, making it especially worrisome for humans. Symptoms include blurred vision, bone pain, chest pain, confusion, fatigue, headaches, nausea, and fever.
E.coli is usually found in cattle; however, when birds peck on cow manure, the E.coli can infect the birds and their droppings. Although most E.coli strains pose no harm to human health, the strain serotype 0157:H7 can cause food poisoning which can be life threatening. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea.
Salmonellosis, commonly referred to as salmonella, is an infection that generally affects the intestines and occasionally the bloodstream. The disease bacteria is traced back to pigeons, sparrows, and starlings, and can be found in their droppings. The dust from their droppings can be sucked through ventilators and air conditioners, which then contaminates the air and food in the home or business. Symptoms include severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and vomiting.
As you can see, birds can be much more than just a nuisance when they nest in your home, they might also put you and your family in danger. In order to prevent birds from nesting in or near your home, make sure you seal off or cover all entry points to common nesting areas, like attics, garages, and gutters. You may also consider obstructing nesting places when there is no bird activity in the area. Once the birds are gone, make sure to clean up all their droppings while wearing a protective mask to eliminate the danger of airborne diseases.
About the Author: Daniel Mackie, co-owner of Greenleaf Pest Control, is a Toronto pest control expert well-known as an industry go-to guy, an innovator of safe, effective pest control solutions, and is a regular guest on HGTV. Mackie, along with business partner Sandy Costa, were the first pest control professionals in Canada to use detection dogs and thermal remediation for the successful eradication of bed bugs. In his free time, he is an avid gardener.