Pigeon Feces and Allergies
It has been long known that pigeon breeders can develop an allergic condition known as Pigeon Breeders Lung. This condition occurs when the body is exposed to pigeon feces, feathers, etc. over a long period of time. The lungs of the breeder become inflamed causing breathing issues (technical term is allergic alveolitis). Pigeon Breeders Lung is not to be confused with histoplasmosis. Histoplasmosis, also frequently infects the lungs, but is caused by a fungus.
How Dangerous Are Pigeon Droppings?
Curtis, L. and fellow researchers wondered whether pigeon droppings and presence at a building could affect people inside the building. The study evaluated air and dust samples of (1) a pigeon infested three-story public high School in Chicago; (2) pigeon bedding and house dust from two Illinois pigeon fanciers; (3) two homes with indoor parakeets/cockateels or canaries; (4) samples from two Illinois hospitals and (5) samples from 15 other Illinois homes without indoor birds.
Researchers found that students were tracking in pigeon feces from the entrance where pigeons were roosting on the ledges above the door. The levels of allergenic material was significant (actually higher than pigeon bedding). Researchers suggest that just as long-term exposure to cockroaches and mice can lead to allergic conditions in senstive individuals, so also can long term exposure to pigeon droppings. They found that birds do not have to be inside a structure for the allergenic material to enter.
Long term exposure to pigeon droppings can lead to people exhibiting allergic reactions to pigeon proteins.
If you would like to learn more read Curtis, L. et al. 2002. Pigeon allergens in indoor environments: a preliminary study. Allergy. 57:7(July):627–631.
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a certified wildlife control operator who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. His latest book is the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. He can be contacted at stephenvantassel at Hotmail dot com.
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