Which Diseases Can Pigeons Spread to Humans?
Pigeons are found in most large metropolitan areas, and Quebec cities are no exception. These invasive birds have adapted to humans and are largely unbothered by our presence.
Unfortunately, they are not exactly man’s best friend. Pigeons carry a number of diseases that are dangerous for humans. It’s important to know what diseases they carry and can spread to humans so that we can better protect ourselves.
Our exterminator in Montreal explains what diseases pigeons can transmit to humans.
These flying rats have the annoying habit of hanging around just about anywhere, making them notorious disease-spreaders. While some diseases, like coryza or trichomonosis, are not transmissible to humans, there are 5 main diseases that we can catch from pigeons.
That’s why proper pigeon pest control is so important to stop the spread of these diseases.
Paratyphoid is caused by Salmonella bacteria, an infection that’s found in many species. The illness can affect your joints, intestines, or genitals.
The bacteria are transmitted via direct contact with an infected pigeon, contact with pigeon droppings or through contaminated food and water.
In humans, the paratyphoid symptoms are similar to stomach virus symptoms. You should see a doctor if you think you may be infected.
Histoplasmosis is a dangerous respiratory infection that’s spread by bats as well as pigeons. It is caused by the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus and by inhaling pigeon droppings. More precisely, the fungal spores are to blame.
These spores are dangerous because they travel through the air and are easily inhaled.
- Chest pain
Despite these scary symptoms, don’t panic. Most cases of histoplasmosis are asymptomatic. If you do have symptoms, see a doctor ASAP.
Cryptococcosis is a fungal infection caused by Cryptococcus neoformans. This disease is also spread through contact with pigeon droppings (much like bat guano).
This infection can be quite dangerous for humans, but only affects those with weakened immune systems. You should seek medical attention ASAP if you think you’ve been exposed.
- Cough (potentially with blood)
- Abnormal vision
- Stiff neck
- Lung infection
- Overall discomfort
As the disease spreads, it can lead to lung infections and coughing up blood. It’s important to seek swift medical attention.
This infectious disease, also known as ornithosis or parrot fever, is caused by Chlamydia psittaci bacteria.
It is transmitted by inhaling dust from pigeon droppings. Handling pigeons can also put you at risk for this disease.
- Conjunctivitis (pink eye)
You should consult a doctor if any of these symptoms appear. If left untreated, this disease can lead to pneumonia.
Pigeons can also spread candidiasis, a skin infection caused by theCandida albicans fungus. It is transmitted to humans via contaminated water.
Candidiasis is characterized by blistered skin and irritation around knee, elbow and armpit creases.
- Oozing and blistered skin
- Irritation around creases: elbows, knees, fingers, armpits
This infection can spread to our mucus membranes and poses a high health risk in particular to those with weakened immune systems.
The bacteria known as E. Coli, or Escherichia coli, is also spread through contaminated water. It is not very dangerous on its own, but it can lead to other infections.
Infected pigeons are partly responsible for transmitting this disease to people.
- Abdominal pain (potentially gastroenteritis)
- Diarrhea (may contain blood)
Pigeons are also vectors for other diseases, even if they are not the direct transmitters. Ticks can spread Lyme disease, for example, if they have come into contact with an infected pigeon.
Scientists do not all agree on the likelihood of pigeons spreading avian flu to humans. Once believed to be resistant to the virus, pigeons have now been linked to avian flu cases in several countries, including Russia. All the more reason to be careful around these birds.
Avoiding pigeons is a great way to avoid disease.
How to protect yourself against pigeon diseases
There is no magic solution to protect yourself from pigeons. The best method is to stay far away from them. If you encounter them in public spaces, avoid them and do not feed them.
This can be more complicated, however, if they invade your home or office. Pigeons can squeeze into very tight spaces. They are known to seek shelter in attics, under porches, on the roof and in your rafters. Pigeons are dangerous enough themselves, but their droppings are of particular concern. When their nests are high up, pigeon droppings often fall near your home and entrances.
Once pigeons have taken up residence in or near your home, there aren’t many options. The only solution is typically to have a professional pigeon exterminator remove them (without harming them!) Sealing and caulking access points ahead of time can help keep them out. But once they’ve taken over, it’s too late.
How to spot an infected pigeon
The best way to protect yourself from pigeons is to be able to spot when one is sick.
A disease-carrying pigeon may exhibit the following symptoms:
- Twisting of the neck (key sign)
- Difficulty breathing or moving
- Disorientation and/or lack of coordination
If you notice pigeons with any of these symptoms, you should stay as far away as possible.
Contact E.Exterminateur to protect yourself from pigeon diseases
Pigeons pose multiple health risks for humans. They’re an invasive species that can damage your property. But the main hazard is the risk of disease.
To prevent the spread of disease, pigeon removal is the only effective and permanent solution. So in case of a pigeon invasion, send your submission to an exterminator such as EExterminator without delay. Trust our pest control services in Montreal to get rid of other pests. Our team will come to your home to fix your infestation problem for good. On top of that, we offer you the first free consultation, so take advantage of it!