The veterinary microbiologists at Karnataka Veterinary, Animal and Fisheries University (KVAFSU) studying the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms from pigeon feces have conducted awareness campaigns to educate people about the harmful effects of pigeon poop on human health.
Dr. KM Chandrashekar, an assistant professor of Veterinary Microbiology at the Veterinary College (Hassan), who is leading the awareness campaign says pigeons carry parasites, ticks, and fleas in their droppings, potentially spreading diseases. Wild birds usually carry more diseases than pet birds because pet birds’ immune systems are better at fighting off pathogens. People who come into contact with pigeon droppings or breathe in dust from dried droppings can get sick from various diseases.
What is pigeon poop?
Pigeon droppings look like small marbles and have a white-brownish appearance. If the droppings are loose and wet, it can be a sign that the bird is stressed or unhealthy.
Birds like Pigeons excrete nitrogenous waste in the form of uric acid instead of urea and ammonia, as they are uricotelic. Since birds do not have a urinary bladder, the uric acid is excreted along with their feces. Pigeon droppings are also related to promoting the growth of fungi. The presence of ammonia causes respiratory problems and irritation.
Research has shown that more than 60 different diseases can spread through pigeon droppings. It can cause fungal diseases like Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and Candidiasis, bacterial diseaes like Psittacosis, Avian tuberculosis, besides causing bird flu.
When inhaled, they affect the liver and spleen. High fever, pneumonia, blood abnormalities, and influenza are some visible symptoms.
How to avoid?
While cleaning pigeon droppings, it is advisable to use disposable gloves, shoe coverings, and masks with filters that can trap particles as small as 0.3 microns. It is also recommended to moisten the droppings slightly with water to prevent spores from becoming airborne. Once the droppings are cleaned, they should be stored in sealed bags, and the exterior of the bags should be washed before disposing of them in designated areas..