Are pigeon feces dangerous to touch or breathe?

There is a fair amount of questions surrounding the possible health risks associated with pigeon droppings. The fact is that direct contact like touching pigeon feces with the hands, may in fact pose a small health risk. However, it is only in the context of very large quantities that serious health problems might start to occur. For example, more common household activities such as the cleaning of windows, will not typically result in the exposure to health risks. There are basically three human diseases known to be associated with pigeon feces. These are Histoplasmosis, Cryptococcosis, and Psittacosis.

The first of these diseases, Histoplasmosis, grows in pigeon droppings in soil in the form of a fungus. In a household sense, it is recommended that when cleaning droppings, a person must avoid breathing in some of the fungus. However important to note, is that it is only in cases of very high exposure that infection can occur. The second disease, Cryptococcosis, is another fungal disease associated with pigeon feces that grows in soil across the globe. As for this disease, it is highly unlikely that generally healthy people will become infected- even at high levels of exposure. The third disease called Psittacosis, is a rare infectious disease that primarily affects parrots and other birds such as cockatiels, parakeets and even pigeons themselves. In humans, this bacterial disease is very rare. With less than one human infection case identified each year, most people with good immune systems need not be concerned.

None of the above mentioned diseases associated with pigeon feces are transmittable from one human to another. As can be inferred from the discussion of the various diseases, pigeon feces around workplaces and homes do not pose a serious health risk to the general public. Routine cleaning of droppings such as windows and railings is not problematic as to the advancement of any of these diseases for most people. However, one can never be too careful and there are a few simple provisions that can be taken to further reduce direct contact with pigeon feces. Two good ways to avoid direct contact with pigeon feces include wearing disposable gloves. It’s also a good idea to wear clothes that can be washed after a cleaning session. Other protective type clothing like disposable coveralls, boots, and respirators can also be used for proper protection. In the case of high-powered water hose that is used to strip off dried droppings, it is recommended that dust control measures be taken. One example is covering the area with plastic sheeting. Last but not least, once the structures have been properly cleaned, they should be regularly washed to prevent further accumulation of pigeon feces.

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