Birds such as pigeons can cause potential health risks to humans. When a pigeon roosts, its feathers and droppings will accumulate. The droppings and debris can harbour disease-causing organisms that can become airborne and inhaled, resulting in illness. Even disturbing pigeon droppings by walking on them, can cause possible illness. Larger populations of pigeons that congregate together will pose a greater health risk.
Cryptococcus neoformans causes the disease cryptococcosis, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Cryptococcus neoformans is a type of fungus. The spores from the fungus exist in pigeon droppings or in soil contaminated with the droppings. Most people may not develop a cryptococcosis infection. Those with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop symptoms. Infections begin as pneumonia-like symptoms that include coughing, fever and not being able to catch your breath. Other symptoms can include skin lesions, which start out as pimple-like breakouts.
Chlamydia psittaci, a bacteria, results in psittacosis infections. Psittacosis infections are rare and symptoms are mild. If symptoms do develop, coughing, chest pain and fever can occur. A crackling sound can be heard when you try to breathe. As the infection advances, headache, muscle pain, chills and rash can also be experienced.
The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum causes histoplasmosis infections. This disease commonly affects the lungs, but can also attack your organs, indicates the CDC. Left untreated, histoplasmosis is fatal. Histoplasmosis can cause mild to severe symptoms. Symptoms can manifest three days to two weeks after becoming exposed to the fungus. Initial symptoms can begin as flu-like symptoms. More serious symptoms include high fever, pneumonia, meningitis and severe weight loss.
Pigeons can also potentially spread toxoplasmosis, Newcastle disease and salmonella. Salmonella bacteria causes salmonellosis. Salmonellosis causes fever, diarrhoea and cramping. In rare instances, pigeons can transmit toxoplasmosis, a disease particularly dangerous to expecting mothers. Flu-like symptoms are experienced with the toxoplasmosis. Vision disturbances, eye redness and eye pain can also be experienced with the disease. Newcastle disease is a contagious viral bird disease. Contact with infected pigeon droppings can cause conjunctivitis. Newcastle disease can also cause minor flu-like symptoms.