How Pest Birds Harbour and Spread Disease
Several bird species have successfully adapted to our urban environment. The pigeon, starling and house sparrow have learned to thrive living in our buildings and eating our food. Birds are a perfect mechanism for spreading disease because they travel great distances, harbour over forty types of parasites and can host internally over sixty types of infectious diseases. The invading agents that account for the majority of infectious diseases are grouped in the following five categories: viruses, bacteria, mycotic (fungal), protozoal and rickettsial. Disease to humans can be transmited by:
- Food & water contaminated with faeces
- Inhalation of fecal dust
- Direct contact with faeces
How to Handle Pest Bird Problems From A Health Perspective
Using our understanding of how nuisance birds play a role in disease transmission, we can develop a few guidelines when dealing with bird infestations.
First and foremost, bird infestations are to be taken seriously but not irrationally. When evaluating a health risk potential look for the following: droppings or nesting materials inside air vents, birds around food or beverage production facilities, or large amounts of droppings in enclosed areas. These are the types of situations where disease can be spread. Remember, pigeons walking around your park bench is not cause for panic, while twenty birds living in the roof-top air ducts of a restaurant is a serious health concern requiring action.
Second, pest control professionals and do-it yourselfers must take the proper precautions when tackling bird control projects. Respirators, goggles and protective clothing must be used when cleaning up bird sites, particularly enclosed areas out of the sun with large amounts of droppings and nesting material.
Finally, it is not enough to remove the birds, it is crucial to exterminate all the ectoparasites and thoroughly disinfect the site.