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.