can you get diseases from bird poop

In addition to being direct disease carriers, nuisance birds are often linked to more than 50 different types of ectoparasites, which can enter buildings and sting people. Approximately two thirds of these pests may be harmful to domestic animals’ and people’s overall health and well-being. The rest are considered nuisance or incidental pests.

When to see a doctor

If you experience flu-like symptoms after coming into contact with bird or bat droppings, get in touch with your doctor, especially if you have compromised immune function.

The fungus Histoplasma capsulatum’s reproductive cells, or spores, are what cause histoplasmosis. When dirt or other material is disturbed, they float into the air.

The fungus grows best in moist soil that is high in organic matter, particularly bat and bird droppings. It is especially prevalent in parks, old barns, caverns, and pigeon and chicken coops.

Since histoplasmosis is not communicable, it cannot be passed from one person to another. If youve had histoplasmosis, you can get it again. If you do contract it again, though, the sickness will probably be less severe this time.

The more spores you breathe in, the greater your risk of experiencing the symptoms of histoplasmosis. People more likely to be exposed include:

  • Farmers
  • Pest control workers
  • Poultry keepers
  • Construction workers
  • Roofers
  • Landscapers and gardeners
  • Cave explorers
  • Demolition workers

Most at risk of severe infection

The immune systems of adults 55 years of age and above and children under two are weakened. They are therefore more susceptible to disseminated histoplasmosis, the most dangerous kind of the illness. Other factors that can weaken your immune system include:

  • human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)
  • Cancer chemotherapy
  • Corticosteroid drugs, such as prednisone
  • Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, often used to control rheumatoid arthritis
  • Medications that prevent rejection of organ transplants

Serious complications from histoplasmosis can arise even in otherwise healthy individuals. In the case of elderly individuals, newborns, and those with compromised immune systems, the possible complications can be fatal.

Complications can include:

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome. Lung damage from histoplasmosis can cause the air sacs to fill with fluid. This can lower blood oxygen levels and impede proper air exchange.
  • Heart problems. Pericarditis is the inflammation of the sac that surrounds your heart, or the pericardium. An increase in fluid in this sac may make it more difficult for the heart to pump blood.
  • Adrenal insufficiency. Your adrenal glands, which create hormones that instruct almost every organ and tissue in your body, can be harmed by histoplasmosis.
  • Meningitis. This inflammation of the membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord can occasionally be brought on by histoplasmosis.

It is challenging to avoid coming into contact with the fungus that causes histoplasmosis, particularly in places where the illness is common. However, following these measures could help lower the chance of infection:

  • Avoid exposure. Steer clear of endeavors and pursuits that could expose you to the fungus, like exploring caves and rearing pigeons or chickens.
  • Spray contaminated surfaces. Soak the soil in water before excavating or working in any area that might be home to the fungus that causes histoplasmosis. This may lessen the chance of spores being released into the atmosphere. Applying a pre-cleaning spray to barns and chicken coops can also lower your risk.
  • Wear a respirator mask. Check with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health to find out what kind of mask is appropriate for your exposure level.
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  • Histoplasmosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www. cdc. gov/fungal/diseases/histoplasmosis/index. html. Accessed Nov. 3, 2021.
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  • Kauffman CA. Diagnosis and treatment of pulmonary histoplasmosis. https://www. uptodate. com/contents/search. Accessed Dec. 13, 2019.
  • Histoplasmosis: Protecting workers at risk. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www. cdc. gov/niosh/docs/2005-109/. Accessed Dec. 17, 2019.
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  • Diseases & Conditions
  • Histoplasmosis symptoms & causes


Are bird droppings harmful to humans?

Even when old and dry, bird droppings can be a significant source of infection. Like histoplasmosis, most cryptococcosis infections are mild and may be without symptoms. Persons with weakened immune systems, however, are more susceptible to infection.

What happens if bird poop gets on your skin?

Bacteria in dry bird droppings can cause the flu- and pneumonia-like respiratory symptoms of psittacosis. Neurological problems including headache are common in many cases along with a skin rash called Horder spots. Some people also experience gastrointestinal upset.

Does all bird poop have histoplasmosis?

Histoplasmosis is an infection caused by a fungus, Histoplasma capsulatum. The principal habitat for this fungus is soil enriched by the buildup of bird or bat droppings, and in fresh bat droppings. Fresh bird droppings have not been shown to present a health risk for Histoplasma capsulatum.

What diseases can you get from bird guano?

There are several diseases known to be associated with bird droppings; histoplasmosis, cryptococcosis and psittacosis – all can represent a risk to human health. When cleaning bird droppings in any quantity the affected area should be dampened and treated before removal to prevent the risk of inhalation and infection.