Bird flu is just the beginning: Diseases birds can carry

Whilst most people have heard of bird flu, there are over 60 other diseases that can be carried by birds or passed through their droppings, some of which can be as serious as bird flu. This article considers some of these diseases and ways to reduce their impact.


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Transmissible bird diseases

Large numbers of birds, including flocks of geese, starlings, pigeons and seagulls, can cause a significant impact with their droppings and dander. These problem birds carry a number of diseases, including the potentially fatal respiratory disease, histoplasmosis and the itchy and painful yeast infection, candidiasis.

In addition, these birds can transmit salmonella and E.coli, two bacterium associated with food poisoning as well as two potentially fatal diseases that can affect the central nervous system, named cryptococcosis and St Louis encephalitis.


In addition, these nuisance birds have been associated with over 50 ectoparasites that can cause infestations or bite humans or domestic animals. These include bed bugs, mites, mealworms and West Nile virus (WNV). Whilst the former two are annoying pests that bite their hosts and cause itching and discomfort, the latter two (mealworms and WNV) are more serious.

Mealworms are carried by pigeons and can end up in grain or grain products, which, when consumed by humans or animals, can cause intestinal canthariasis, which can result in significant damage to the internal organs of the host. WNV is potentially even more significant to susceptible individuals, despite not being directly transmitted by the birds themselves. The virus is spread by mosquitoes and, whilst the majority of individuals will display no symptoms, in others it can cause a serious, sometimes fatal, neurological illness.


These problems are of particular concern in residential areas, where large numbers of pigeons, gulls and starlings congregate for feeding and nesting, as large amounts of their droppings can aid in the transmission of these diseases. It is these areas where effective nuisance bird management is required to control numbers. How can I reduce my nuisance bird problem? The best and most effective way is to contact a reputable pest control company that specialises in controlling nuisance birds.

Management options

Nuisance bird prevention measures include devices to prevent roosting and other visual or noisy devices designed to scare birds away.