Pest Birds can be a serious health issue

Birds often conjure up feelings of freedom and integrity. Their image is to be found on regal emblems and white doves are customarily released at ceremonies as a symbol of hope.

The reality of birds, however, is rarely this safe and pure.

In 2011, a 23 year old, nature-loving Canadian woman was left permanently blind following an excruciating period in hospital, battling an illness that was attacking her spine and brain. The culprit? Pigeon faeces. This woman had contracted a potentially fatal infection called cryptococcal meningitis, one of many fungal and bacterial diseases carried by birds.

Birds prefer to raise their young in natural surroundings but their overriding quest for food and shelter often causes them to flock to urban environments. Birds and their droppings can carry over 60 zoonotic diseases (diseases that are transmissible to humans) with devastating consequences.

Disease-ridden bird droppings

While direct contact with bird droppings (guano) renders humans most vulnerable, simply inhaling in the vicinity of birds can put humans at risk of contracting airborne diseases that directly attack the respiratory system. In other words, allowing birds to roost or nest within your business surrounds could have serious consequences beyond the nuisance of noise and nests.

Cryptococcosis is caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings, commonly present in warehouse roofs, ledges, schools, offices, mills, park buildings, signs and any typical, urban roosting and nesting site. The illness often begins as a pulmonary disease - causing absenteeism and distress among employees, students and customers - and advanced cases can affect the central nervous system with debilitating results.

Another zoonotic disease that can spread to humans from birds, Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis), causes a lung infection accompanied by fever, headache, muscle aches, a dry cough and shortness of breath. Infected birds can appear physically well yet shed the bacterial parasite in their faeces, urine, saliva, ocular and nasal secretions, and feather dust.

Hiptoplasmosis is another disease commonly associated with pigeons, starlings, seagulls and house sparrows (all common bird pests in Australia) and is a potentially fatal respiratory disease resulting from fungus that grows in dried bird droppings.

Starlings, sparrows and pigeons may also carry deadly Salmonella yet appear healthy - defecating and spreading the harmful bacteria which can persist in soil and water for long periods of time. All varieties of salmonella produce endotoxins capable of causing food poisoning - a potentially game-charging event for any food based business. Bird droppings, dust from droppings, feathers and debris can fall from nests in ceilings and can be sucked in through air ventilators and air conditioners. These pathogens can contaminate food preparation areas, production lines and food storage areas.

Beyond being a nuisance that corrodes your car polish and defaces buildings, it is clear that bird droppings are a dangerous by-product of bird infestations in work areas. All it takes is one bad incident for the reputation of a business to be irreparably decimated.

Bird pests and parasites

If one needs further convincing that birds can be both a nuisance and a serious concern in work spaces, consider not just what birds carry on the inside but also what they attract on the outside.

Ectoparasites are parasites that live on or in the skin of their hosts and over 50 varieties are known to thrive in the feathery warmth of birds’ bodies. About two-thirds of these can be detrimental to humans, including bed bugs, chicken mites, yellow mealworms, West Nile virus, ticks and lice. Birds, their droppings and nests also attract a hoard of other disease-inducing pests, including rodents, insects and even snakes.

Keep your business safe from birds

Landing, roosting and nesting on office roofs, pathways and under awnings, birds usually flock in large groups and can become a major nuisance for businesses with respect to image, safety and the bottom line. Only a tailored combination of professional bird removal, deterrent and disinfection measures can keep your employees, customers and business environment safe from bird disease and parasites.

At Rentokil, we’re the experts in effective bird control. We offer a wide range of discreet, cost-effective and humane control measures that won’t harm the birds or disrupt your business. Contact us to today to arrange a free Site Survey.


1. Staples, M, 2011. Fredericton Daily Gleaner, April 26.
2. Pesek, L, DVM, 1998. Zoonotic Diseases – Part I, Bird to Human Transmission, Chlamydiosis (Psittacosis, Parrot Fever), Salmonellosis.
3. State Govt. Of Victoria, Dept. Of Health.
4. Jacqueline P. Jacob, Jack M. Gaskin, Henry R. Wilson, and F. Ben Mather, 1997. Avian Diseases Transmissible to Humans, The Institute of Food and Agricultural Services, University of Florida.
5. Medical News Today, 2014. Birds and their droppings can carry over 60 diseases,



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