What Every Business Owner Needs To Know About Pest Bird Diseases

March 17, 2021

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Pest birds like pigeons can often be overlooked, but it is important to know that besides being nuisance, these birds can also be a health risk to your customers and employees. From diseases associated with their droppings to parasites that use pest birds to hitch a ride. Here is what every business owner needs to know about the health risks associated with pest birds.

Common Pest Birds

Though businesses need to worry about a variety of pest birds, the most common species  any business may encounter are:

Health Risks Associated With Pest Birds And Their Droppings

Food & Water Contaminated with Bird Feces

The most obvious transmission of bird related diseases is through ingestion of contaminated food or water. This happens when a diseased bird defecates directly into a human food, water source or food handling surfaces and utensils. Besides direct contamination, airborne particles or fragments from drying feces in air ducts and vents can settle on exposed food, food prep surfaces or in utensils and can be transmitted to humans.

Inhalation of Fecal Dust from Bird Droppings

As bird droppings and/or the contaminated soil it rests on, dries and is disturbed, microscopic pieces break off and become airborne. These airborne particles can contain dormant fungi spores and/or bacteria. When breathed into the lungs, the warm, moist environment of the lung lining provides an optimal breeding area for infectious agents.

Direct Contact with Bird Droppings

Direct contact infections can occur when a worker or resident gets fecal dust or droppings in the mouth, nostrils, eyes or an open wound or cut. This can occur when working in an environment where birds roost or gather in large flocks. Possible examples of direct contact situations can include employees associated with HVAC cleaning, roofing, outdoor activities/services, etc. 

In order to prevent direct contact infections from exposed droppings, proper personal protection equipment (PPE) must always be used. This is especially the case when working in an area with a heavy pest bird presence.

Slip & Fall Risks

The hazardous nature of bird droppings aren’t just limited to points mentioned above, as the droppings can also be a hazard for those walking on sidewalks. This is because bird droppings on sidewalks, walkways, on steps or even in fire escape routes can pose major fall risks because the droppings tend to be slippery when fresh.

Ectoparasites Associated with Birds

Pest birds harbour ectoparasites like swallow bugs, ticks, fleas, mites and lice. These parasites are not only a biting nuisance, but can also transmit disease pathogens to humans, pets and livestock. In order to transmit the pathogen the parasite does the following:

  1. The parasite bites an infected animal and sucks in blood containing the germ.
  2. The germ then multiplies in the bug and when the infected bug bites its next victim it passes along the germ to the new victim. This occurs because parasites inject some of their germ-loaded saliva into the host when feeding. Over forty types of parasites live either on the birds, in their nests or in the places they roost.

Common Types Of Pest Bird Diseases

Viruses

  • St. Louis Encephalitis (Most Serious Risk)
  • Western Equine Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • New Castle’s Disease
  • H1N1 / Bird Flu

Bacteria

  • Chlamydiosis
  • Salmonellosis
  • Paratyphoid
  • Vibriosis
  • Listeriosis
  • Pasteurellosis
  • E. coli

Fungi

  • Histoplasmosis
  • Cryptococcus
  • Candidiasis
  • Sarcosporidiosis
  • Blastomycosis

Ectoparasites

If you have concerns about pest birds impacting your business, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. Orkin Canada’s team of bird control specialists are well trained and equipped to effectively identify and manage any pest bird issue. Contact your local Orkin Canada branch today!

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Alice Sinia Quality Assurance Manager – Regulatory/Lab Services

Reviewed by Alice Sinia, Ph.D., MSc on March 12 2021.

Master of Science Degree in Pest Management (MSc.) – Simon Fraser University; BSc. (Hons) Biological Sciences (Entomology & Parasitology) – Makerere University; Advanced Level Certificate of Education – Trinity College; Ph.D. – University of Guelph)

With more than 20 years of experience, Alice is responsible for the management of the Orkin Canada Quality Assurance Laboratory located at our GTA Training Centre. She performs analytical entomology (investigates product adulteration using biochemical and comparative tissue methods), and provides technical support in pest/insect identification to branch offices and clients nationwide. In addition, Alice also prepares scientific reports for Orkin Canada clients, updates Orkin management on any changes or updates to any government regulations pertaining to the pest control industry. Alice also performs quality assurance account compliance audits.

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