Pigeons are one of the animals that arouse the most controversy. Just as there is never a lack of those who adore them and spend the afternoons feeding them, it is not difficult to find people who are truly repulsed and consider pigeons a source of disease.

The truth is that, like most animals that have adapted to life in the city, pigeons live and feed in unhealthy areas that are hygienically inadvisable for humans. Some might even call them disgusting.

Do pigeons really carry disease? Yes – There are many conditions that these birds can pass us on; below we explain what diseases pigeons transmit to humans and the ways we have to protect ourselves to avoid them.

Diseases transmitted by pigeons

The main culprits of most diseases that pigeons transmit are their droppings, which contain numerous infectious agents from fungi, viruses and bacteria.As the excrement dries, it will spread through the air in the form of dust or micro particles that, in contact with human mucosa, can develop diseases.

The infections they can cause depend on both the type of agent and the age, health of the person and the strength of their immune system. It is for this reason that children, the elderly, and the sick are much more likely to contract any of these diseases.

Pigeons can transmit more than 40 different diseases to humans; below we explain which are the most common:

  • Histoplasmosis: it is a disease that attacks the respiratory system, which can cause serious lung damage if not treated. Its main symptoms are high fever with chills, cough and chest pain.
  • Chlamydiosis: it is the bacterium of birds that, spread through the dust of the feces breathed by humans, causes ornithosis.
  • Colibacillosis: the condition caused by E-coli, a germ that is also found in the human intestines and manifests itself through fever, diarrhea, and skin bleeding.
  • Salmonellosis: When pigeon droppings contaminate human food.
  • Louis encephalitis: A serious condition that inflames the nervous system. Its first symptoms are drowsiness, fever and headache, but left untreated it can cause paralysis, coma, and death. Especially serious are the cases that occur in sick people or people over 50 years of age.
  • Allergic alveolitis: popularly known as the pigeon lung disease, although other animals can also infect it, it inflames the alveoli of the lungs caused by sensitivity to the dust of the feces or the feathers of the pigeon. If not treated correctly, the damage can become irreversible.
  • Pneumoencephalitis: causes conjunctivitis, nasal congestion, and inflammation of the conjunctiva.

In addition to these, other pathologies spread by pigeons are:

  • Listerious
  • Avian tuberculosis
  • Paratyphoid fever
  • Aspergillosis
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Toxoplasmosis

Experts estimate that about 30% of the pigeons that live in larger cities may be sick. These high rates come from the places where these animals live and feed: garbage, excrement of other animals and more unhealthy substances. In addition, they are already carriers of the fungus that causes histoplasmosis.

Diseases caused by parasites of the pigeon

In addition to all the diseases that can be transmitted to us by breathing or being in contact with the fecal dust of pigeons, it must be taken into account that these animals can be infested by up to 50 types of parasites. In their nests, 10 types of invertebrates reproduce and grow that, if they are nearby, can invade your home, transmitting diseases to both humans and pets.

The list of the main parasites that can inhabit the feathers of the pigeon is as follows:

  • Pigeon tick
  • Parasitic bugs
  • Cone-nosed bug
  • Pigeon fly
  • Feather louse
  • Avian louse
  • The mite that causes scabies on their legs
  • The mite that produces plucking scabies
  • The red chicken mite
  • Pigeon flea
  • Chicken flea

Apart from the fact that they can also cause allergies, it is important to know that in pigeon nests it is common to find Triatoma infestans, popularly known as vinchuca. This is an insect that feeds on blood and transmits Chagas disease.

How to prevent diseases of pigeons

  • Control the colonies of these animals. The best way is to reduce the amount of food they have available so that they do not reproduce in a massive way.
  • Cleaning the areas where pigeons and their droppings live should be done wearing disposable gloves and a mask.
  • Soak the area with plenty of water to prevent the droppings from turning into dust.
  • Do not approach any colony of pigeons if you have any disease or a weakened immune system.
  • That the municipal authorities carry out veterinary and sanitary control tasks to avoid overpopulation of pigeons.

Despite all that has been said, there is no need to be alarmed or overly concerned, although pigeons can be a source of infections and diseases, the studies that have been done in this regard do not place them as a great danger to our heal

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