A 6 year old child died from contact with a rabid bat. According to the news, the boy was awake and put his hand on the bat. He wasn’t taken to the hospital for prophylactic rabies shots. Ultimately, that decision seemed to have cost the child his life.
Mice and asthma may not sound like a likely pairing but they are.
A recent article published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found a clear association between exposure to mouse allergens among inner-city children and asthma. The study evaluated 284 students (median age 8) and found that students exposed to mouse allergens at school had higher rates of asthma-related absences than those that did not have such exposure. The authors concluded that school-related exposure to mouse allergens is a significant source of asthma inducing morbidity.
The article on mice and asthma is available online at https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2587681?utm_source=December+Stop+School+Pests+Holiday+Roundup&utm_campaign=School+IPM+November-December+2016+newsletter&utm_medium=email
If you would like information on how to control mice please visit http://agr.mt.gov/Portals/168/Documents/VertebratePests/Bulletins/ControllingMice_2016.pdf?ver=2016-10-25-161045-373×tamp=1482634121352
Bird droppings are nasty. They can contain a variety of infectious agents, including salmonella, e-coli, and Campylobacter. But just how dangerous are they to humans? In other words, how easy is it for bird bacteria to cause infections in humans? How does one protect themselves from it?
That question was taken up by Abulreesh, H. H., Goulder, R., & Scott, G. W. (2007). Wild Birds and Human Pathogens in the Context of Ringing and Migration. Ringing and Migration, 23, 193-200, because bird banders (called ringing elsewhere), can expose themselves to the aforementioned diseases and others due to their handling of wild birds.
Unfortunately, data on relative risk wasn’t given. But the authors did say that people need to be sure that concern for disease safety should be taken seriously and not given simple lip service. They summarized ways handlers can protect themselves from bird diseases. While the information is primarily focused on bird handlers, wildlife control operators can benefit from this advice.
- Minimize contact with feces
- Avoid hand to eye contact
- Ideally, wash hands. When not possible use hand wipes.
Recognize that bird disease and human infection is more likely to occur among those with suppressed immune systems.
In short, wildlife control operators should take their risk of contracting an infectious disease from birds seriously. Not to panic about it, but WCOs must take measure to protect themselves from bird-borne infectious diseases.
The World Health Organization in Europe has published a book on the diseases of urban pests. Though this publication was produced in 2008, I recently became aware of it and wanted my visitors to be aware of it as well.
Understandably, the majority of the pages discuss diseases related to insects. The authors, however, didn’t neglect commensal rodents or birds. I looked at the bird chapter and it mentioned some diseases I don’t recall hearing before. If their treatment of birds is indicative of how they addressed other topics, then the authors pick a heading (ticks, fleas, commensal rodents, non-commensal rodents, etc.), summarize the research on diseases related to that topic and review their potential to cause harm to humans.
Though the book focusses on European concerns, it is still useful for us Americans. If you need information that is unbiased and thoroughly researched (as well as brief) on wildlife diseases, I strongly suggest you download the book today. Note that it is a big file. So be patient. I tried to use Internet Explorer and the file wouldn’t open. Google Chrome worked fine.
It is available as a free download at http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/98426/E91435.pdf Beware, it is a large book.
Histoplasmosis and Hot Dry Attics
Histoplasmosis is a disease caused by a fungus that resides in bat droppings and areas contaminated by bird excrement. The fungus usually grows in moist nutrient environments. So the question is does the fungus survive in bat guano in hot dry attics? Well according to Bartlett et al. (1982) the answer is simply, “Yes.” Attics, even hot dry attics, with active bat infestations can cause people exposed to the droppings/fungal spores to contract histoplasmosis.
Bartlett, P. C., Vonbehren, L. A., Tewari, R. P., Martin, R. J., Eagleton, L., Isaac, M. J., & Kulkarni, P. S. (1982). Bats in the Belfry: An Outbreak of Histoplasmosis. American Journal of Public Health, 72(12), 1369-1372 available at http://ajph.aphapublications.org/doi/pdf/10.2105/AJPH.72.12.1369
About the Author
Stephen M. Vantassel is a Certified Wildlife Control Operator (CWCP®) who helps individuals, businesses, and agencies resolve wildlife damage issues through training, writing, expert witness, and research. He has written the Wildlife Damage Inspection Handbook, 3rd edition. Reach him at wildlifecontrolconsultant at gmail dot com.
All postings are the property of Stephen M. Vantassel and Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC. Text (not images) may be reprinted in non-profit publications provided that the author and website URL is included. If images wish to be used, explicit and written permission must be obtained from Wildlife Control Consultant, LLC.