Pigeons carry approximately 60 different diseases and parasites that can be transmitted to humans. Pigeons can cause excessive damage to Arizona property, buildings, automobiles and machinery. On average, a well fed Pigeon deposits 25 pounds of dropping a year. The pungent odor and unclean appearance is unpleasant to passing pedestrians and customers. Economic losses can be significant due to the need to clean droppings, repair damage and to maintain safe working conditions. In addition, feathers can plug ventilation units and can cause other problems including health hazards. These problems require an expert that specializes in pigeon control. Cleaning Resource Center has a variety of Pigeon Control/Removal Plans that can be customized for every unique problem.
Here are some of the diseases that derive from pigeon infestations.
Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus, which grows in pigeon droppings. It also grows in soils and is found throughout the world. When cleaning droppings a person may breathe in some of the fungus, which in cases of high exposure can cause infection. Common activities, such as cleaning off windowsills, will not result in high exposures, but in areas where there is a lot of dirt/dust or if the infestation is on a roof (typical) the bacteria will travel through the ventilation system.
Symptoms of histoplasmosis begin to appear about 10 days after initial infection and include fatigue, fever, and chest pains. Most people, however, do not show any symptoms. Those with compromised immune systems such as cancer patients or people living with HIV/AIDS are generally more at risk of developing histoplasmosis. The disease cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Cryptococcus’s is another fungal disease associated with pigeon droppings and also grows in soils throughout the world. It is very unlikely that healthy people will become infected even at high levels of exposure. A major risk factor for infection is a compromised immune system. According to the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 85 percent of Cryptococcus’s patients are HIV-positive.
Psittacosis (also known as ornithosis or parrot fever) is a rare infectious disease that mainly affects parrots and parrot-like birds such as cockatiels, and parakeets, but may also affect other birds, such as pigeons. When bird droppings dry and become airborne people may inhale them and get sick.
In humans, this bacterial disease is characterized by: fatigue, fever, headache, rash, chills, and sometimes pneumonia. Symptoms develop about 10 days after exposure. Psittacosis can be treated with a common antibiotic.
Cleaning Up Pigeon Droppings
Protecting the health of both workers who clean up pigeon droppings and the general public is important. Cleaning Resource Center takes a very serious approach in safety for our technicians as well as obtaining the optimum results for our customers
Before any extensive clean-up measures are taken - e.g., removing accumulations inside an air shaft – our technicians are briefed of the possible health risks involved, particularly those with weakened immune systems. Even though histoplasmosis, Cryptococcus’s, and psittacosis pose minor public health threats, they can be further minimized if safety measures are taken. Wearing protective clothing like disposable coveralls, boots, gloves, and respirators are a requirement for the protection of our partners.
When using high power washing equipment to strip off dried droppings, dust control measures such as containing the area with plastic sheeting, are always taken. Wetting down the work area will prevent inhalation, reduce the risk of infection and will also prevent the spread of dust outside the work area.
Once the contaminated areas are cleaned they should be set up for regular inspections and remediation to prevent further accumulation of droppings.
How can I find out more about pigeon-related diseases?
For more information about the health effects of pigeon-related diseases, call your doctor. If you have any questions regarding the health effects of the removal of pigeon feces, you may contact National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at 1 (800) 35-NIOSH, or visit http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/homepage.html.
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