If you live in a city or near a park, chances are you’ve encountered pigeons. These birds are sometimes regarded as pests, and with good reason – their droppings can be unsightly and difficult to clean up.
But aside from the nuisance factor, many people wonder if pigeon poop is toxic. The short answer is yes – pigeon droppings can carry harmful pathogens that can lead to a range of health problems.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the potential health risks associated with exposure to pigeon poop, as well as how to safely clean it up and prevent pigeon infestations. We encourage you to read carefully, especially if you or someone you know is particularly vulnerable to respiratory or infectious diseases.
What Does Pigeon Poop Look Like?
Pigeon droppings are a common sight in urban areas where these birds are prevalent. These droppings are white-brown in hue and resemble small marbles in texture and size. It’s essential to note that healthy pigeons will have a few feathers in their feces, while sick or anxious birds may display loose and watery droppings.
Bird droppings can carry harmful pathogens, including bacteria and fungi, which can cause various health issues. Therefore, identifying a sick pigeon through its dropping can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases to other birds or humans.
It’s worth mentioning that while pigeon droppings may look harmless, they can cause damage to buildings and other structures over time. Bird droppings can corrode and stain surfaces, and their acidic nature can pose a threat to roofing materials and cause water damage.
Is Pigeon Poop Harmful?
Pigeon droppings are more than just an eyesore, as they can cause significant damage to buildings over time due to their highly acidic nature. Besides, if the accumulation is left unchecked, the excreta from these pests can cause floors or roofs to collapse, making homes unsafe for habitation. Furthermore, extensive droppings can contaminate food intended for both human and livestock consumption, posing a significant health risk to those who come into contact with it.
Pigeon droppings can also introduce a host of parasites, ticks, and other pathogens into their surrounding environments that may result in various diseases, making them a cause for concern for people living near high-rise buildings or apartment complexes. Pigeons’ unique mode of excreting nitrogenous waste — via uric acid in their droppings — makes it a respiratory irritant in humans, causing respiratory problems and discomfort.
People cleaning up after pigeons need to take specific precautions to avoid inhaling the dust caused by their droppings. Protective clothing, including a mask and goggles, is advisable when cleaning up their droppings, as inhalation of the dust and debris may cause various diseases like psittacosis, cryptococcosis, and histoplasmosis.
How Dangerous Are Pigeon Droppings To Your Health?
Pigeon droppings are not only unsightly but also highly hazardous to human health. These birds are known carriers of many diseases and parasites that can ultimately end up in their droppings. If you have a pigeon infestation on your property, the chances of contracting an illness from their droppings become very high. It is essential to take quick and effective measures to handle the problem and eliminate the risk of illness.
Contracting diseases and parasites from pigeon droppings is a real concern. Pigeons can carry more than sixty diseases and twenty ectoparasites that can cause various health problems in humans. The droppings, feathers, and other debris from infested roosting sites become breeding grounds for bacteria, fungi, and viruses, which all increase the risk of illness in humans.
There are two possible outcomes of living with pigeons on your property, both of which pose a substantial health risk. Firstly, pigeon droppings will accumulate on your roof or property, and over time, the acidic droppings can wreak havoc on your property, causing substantial damage to roofing materials and solar panels. The second possibility is that the waste will eventually be tracked into your home, exposing everyone to the diseases, parasites, and contaminated air that come with it.
Bird droppings are not only unsightly but also highly hazardous to human health, with birds carrying over 60 diseases and parasites, many of which can cause severe illness. Those that come in direct contact with bird droppings are at risk of potential health hazards. It is also advised that people with lung or other health conditions should avoid dried bird droppings as much as possible.
When dried bird droppings are disrupted and become airborne, the resulting particles can irritate the bronchial passage, causing respiratory disease. Moreover, disturbing large quantities of dried bird poop can lead to the transmission of fungal diseases such as Histoplasmosis or Cryptococcosis. These diseases are caused by fungal spores within the poop and can even contaminate soil that is overexposed.
Those who are most at risk are vulnerable people with pre-existing lung or immune system conditions, who should avoid situations where dried bird droppings may be aerosolized and stay clear of excavation, construction, or demolition work where large quantities of bird poop may be disturbed and cause potential health risks.
What are the Diseases and Who is at Risk?
Exposure to pigeon droppings can carry health risks, and two of the main diseases associated with this exposure are psittacosis and salmonella. Psittacosis is caused by bacteria found in both wild and domesticated birds and can result in pneumonia, while salmonella leads to an upset stomach and diarrhea. Although rare, both illnesses can be contracted through contact with pigeon droppings.
Dust particles containing the bacteria can get into the air when droppings and respiratory secretions dry out. Therefore, both sick birds and healthy birds can carry and spread the bacteria, making anyone who comes in contact with contaminated areas at risk for infection.
People who are especially vulnerable to these diseases due to preexisting medical conditions should avoid tasks involving bird droppings. Workers with a weakened immune system are particularly advised by the UK Health and Safety Executive to avoid directly handling tasks involving bird droppings.
Are there any other risks?
Breathing in dust or water droplets that contain contaminated bird droppings can lead to various diseases, including psittacosis and salmonella. Psittacosis, resulting from Chlamydia psittaci bacteria, commonly manifests as a flu-like illness that leads to pneumonia within five to 19 days of exposure. Salmonella, a bacterial infection that typically causes diarrhea, can also be present in some bird droppings.
Individuals with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS or cancer, are particularly vulnerable to these diseases and hence should not engage in cleaning up droppings. Besides, Histoplasmosis and Cryptococcosis are other infections that individuals can contract from inhaling fungus found in bird droppings.
It is strongly advised to wash your hands thoroughly after cleaning up bird droppings to prevent the spread of infections and viruses. Given the high risks associated with cleaning droppings, it is important to take precautionary measures such as using gloves and protective clothing.
Preventing the Spread of Disease
To prevent the spread of airborne diseases such as psittacosis and salmonella from bird droppings, it is essential that cleaning professionals take necessary precautions. The HSE recommends using its ‘Assess, Control and Review’ model to limit exposure to pigeon droppings. During the assessment phase, cleaning professionals should identify and assess their level of risk and devise a plan to mitigate any potential hazards. They should also consider involving their colleagues in the planning process.
In the second phase, cleaning professionals should take measures to prevent and control further health risks to themselves. This may include wearing protective gear such as gloves, masks, and goggles to avoid direct contact with the droppings. It is also recommended to wet down the droppings to minimize the chances of dust becoming airborne. Additionally, bird spikes can be used as a deterrent to prevent pigeons from roosting in the area.
However, if the infestation is severe, it is advisable to seek professional help to deal with the issue. Cleaning professionals may also consider providing training to their colleagues to raise awareness of the potential health hazards posed by bird droppings.
Finally, during the review phase of the ‘Assess, Control, and Review’ model, cleaning professionals should examine their procedures and processes to ensure their effectiveness in protecting themselves and their colleagues from the spread of disease.
How risky is it?
Cryptococcus infection is generally not a major health risk for healthy people. However, vulnerable individuals, such as those with weakened immune systems, may be at greater risk of becoming very ill with chest infections or meningitis. This rare fungal infection is uncommon in the UK, according to expert Prof Hugh Pennington. It is more commonly found in tropical regions of the world and in the US.
Despite being relatively uncommon in the UK, individuals who already have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to the infection. Cryptococcus is not known to spread from person to person, so there is no need to worry about transmission from an infected individual.
It is important to take necessary precautions when dealing with bird droppings to prevent potential exposure to diseases such as psittacosis and salmonella, particularly for individuals with weaker immune systems who may be at higher risk of illness.
Pigeons are a Health Hazard
Pigeons are recognized as carriers and transmitters of various diseases through their droppings. These diseases include Histoplasmosis, Pigeon Ornithosis, Salmonella, Cryptococcosis, Toxoplasmosis, and Encephalitis. Pigeons can also harbor many ectoparasites, including ticks, flies, fleas, mites, and biting lice, all of which can transmit diseases.
Moreover, pigeon droppings pose a significant risk of making structural surfaces slippery and dangerous. Such hazards may even result in health claims and lawsuits that tend to exceed 100K.
The collections of droppings also provide an environment for bacterial and fungal growth. This growth may, in turn, prove a potential public health problem and cause respiratory infections and other infectious diseases.
Human diseases that have been linked to pigeon droppings include Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, Psittacosis, and Toxoplasmosis. Additionally, the nesting material of pigeons may also harbor fabric pests or pantry pests.
Besides, pigeon droppings might also result in damage to buildings and other structures. This damage can be very costly to repair and may even pose safety risks. Therefore, pigeon control and abatement services are essential to reduce potential health risks and safeguard your property.
Our expert pigeon technicians provide comprehensive pigeon control and abatement solutions within the Sacramento Valley, covering communities like West Sacramento, Carmichael, Folsom, El Dorado Hills, Cameron Park, and Shingle Springs. Get in touch with us today if you’re experiencing a pigeon problem.
Steps for Safe Removal
Safe removal of bird droppings is crucial to ensure the protection of people in the vicinity. Proper cleanup of the affected areas is necessary not only to prevent health hazards but also to enhance the effectiveness of any bird deterrent materials in use.
When bird deterrents are installed on surfaces that have bird droppings, they tend to be less effective since the droppings interfere with surface adhesion. Therefore, removing droppings from bird-infested surfaces creates a “clean slate” and helps ensure that bird deterrent materials function optimally.
When removing bird droppings, it is essential to ensure that proper protective gear is worn to prevent direct contact with the droppings. If the droppings are minimal, such as a few spots on a car, thoroughly wash your hands and other areas of contact. It is also recommended to use plastic gloves when removing small amounts of bird poop.
However, for larger quantities of droppings, we recommend trained professionals to handle such cases. If removing high quantities of bird poop on your own, it’s vital to wear a protective mask, gloves, and eyewear, and cover or seal heating/cooling vents to avoid inhaling dust particles in the air.
When choosing a cleaner for bird droppings, it’s best to use products specially designed for that purpose. Bird-dropping cleaners contain probiotic microbes that are effective in breaking down urine and fecal matter quickly, making the removal process faster. Adding water to dried deposits can also help to loosen the droppings faster.
After cleaning up the droppings, it’s important to have bird deterrent materials ready and installation done right away to avoid future bird infestations. An accurate assessment of the area is crucial in selecting the proper bird deterrent materials for your premises.
We recommend calling in a bird control professional as they can provide an initial assessment and suggest the best bird deterrent materials to use. Safety is paramount, and we advise against sending untrained amateurs, children, or vulnerable people to clean up affected areas.
In conclusion, this article provides essential information on the potential health risks associated with pigeon poop, including bacterial and fungal infections, respiratory diseases, and food poisoning.
By understanding these risks, readers can take necessary precautions to protect themselves from exposure to pigeon droppings. The article also offers helpful tips on the safe removal of bird droppings and selecting the appropriate bird deterrent materials for your premises.
By following these recommendations, individuals can prevent future bird infestations and minimize damage to buildings and surfaces caused by pigeon droppings. Overall, this article serves as a valuable resource for anyone concerned about the potential health hazards posed by pigeon poop.