Pigeons have lived together with human beings for thousands of years. Some pigeons carried posts to help our ancestors and most of them dropped diseases for us to suffer.
Human diseases and health risks associated with pigeon droppings are Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis and Psittacosis.
Histoplasmosis, an infection caused by a fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum, may cause high fever, blood abnormality, pneumonia and even death in some cases. The disease primarily affects the lungs. People with weakened immune systems are generally more at risk of developing this disease. The fungus grows in pigeon droppings and soils throughout the world. It enters human bodies through air while breathing and a high in-take may cause infection. The symptoms of histoplasmosis may be fatigue, fever, minor influenza, blood abnormalities, dry coughs and chest pains though in many cases it does not show any. Central Illinois have experienced outbreaks of histoplasmosis.
Accumulated pigeon droppings are the most important source of Cryptococcosis, another fungal disease caused by Cryptococcus neoformans. Immune compromised persons, especially those with HIV infection run at high risk from this disease. Initial pulmonary infection is usually asymptomatic and most patients surrender to disseminated infection. It begins with a lung infection and spreads to other areas of the body, particularly in the CNS or the central nervous system. Skin eruptions and ulcers with lumps just under the skin are also characteristics of this disease. A high in-take of that airborne yeast cells in human bodies through air while breathing causes this infection. A cost-effective Cryptococcosis prevention strategy is yet to be developed.
Psittacosis is an infection caused by intracellular bacterium Chlamydia psittaci that affects parrots, pigeons and other birds. Dry and airborne droppings of affected birds infect human beings. Manifestations of this disease may range from asymptomatic infection to systemic illness with severe pneumonia. Fever, chills, headache, muscle aches, and a dry cough are some symptoms of this disease in human beings. Most Psittacosis in human beings results from exposure to pet infected birds. It spreads when a person inhales the organism, vaporized from respiratory secretions or dried feces of infected birds or bird bites, mouth-to-beak contact, and through handling of infected birds. Even brief exposures can lead to symptomatic infection. Man to man, transmission of this bacterium is rare, but not impossible.
In any case, the infected person should immediately consult a doctor.
As the age-old proverb goes ‘prevention is better than cure’, it is always advisable to get rid of pigeons. Killing is a common method, employed for pigeon control. However, scientific research has shown that in most cases the number increase beyond the pre-cull figure within weeks. If the food supply remains constant, pigeons will breed four-six times a year on an average. On the other hand, reduction in food supply may drop the number accordingly. It may work to some effect if the city council and general people work hand in hand as a pigeon deterrent by keeping the food sources far away from them. It is now high time to act for Pigeon Removal.