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Bird Control Diseases, Pigeon Control Diseases, and Grackle Control Diseases

Birds may spread many diseases that may be costly to your business when bird infestation spreads infectious agents. In addition, while discussing bird causing ailments it is worth noting there are reports that fogging pest birds also causes sinus headaches in employees, which may then turn into many employee ailments either real of psychosomatic. Despite the fact that fogging is expensive and not that effective in most uses, the persistent smell from fogging triggers post sinus irritant symptom responses that may eventually turn into employee ailments. This and other reasons contribute to the decision that fogging is not an efficient way to relocate pest birds, there are many other methods that are much more effective and efficient without irritating your employees.

As a public service AFI shares some important information about some common diseases spread from pest bird infestations borrowed all in part from several public sources. This information is from the public sources. Please consult the sources for the accuracy and current application of this information, AFI is in not responsible for updating, the validity, or the accuracy of any of the following information, please consult the www-cdc-gov for official and current information on bird diseases.

Avian Influenza (Bird Flu) this section borrowed from the website www-cdc-/flu/avian/gen-info/facts.htm

“Avian influenza is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) A viruses. These influenza A viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide get flu A infections in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from flu infections. However, avian influenza is very contagious among birds and some of these viruses can make certain domesticated bird species, including chickens, ducks, and turkeys, very sick and kill them.

Infected birds can shed influenza virus in their saliva, nasal secretions, and feces. Susceptible birds become infected when they have contact with contaminated secretions or excretions or with surfaces that are contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds. Domesticated birds may become infected with avian influenza virus through direct contact with infected waterfowl or other infected poultry, or through contact with surfaces (such as dirt or cages) or materials (such as water or feed) that have been contaminated with the virus.

Infection with avian influenza viruses in domestic poultry causes two main forms of disease that are distinguished by low and high extremes of virulence. The "low pathogenic" form may go undetected and usually causes only mild symptoms (such as ruffled feathers and a drop in egg production). However, the highly pathogenic form spreads more rapidly through flocks of poultry. This form may cause disease that affects multiple internal organs and has a mortality rate that can reach 90-100% often within 48 hours.

Human infection with avian influenza viruses

There are many different subtypes of type A influenza viruses. These subtypes differ based on differences in two main proteins on the surface of the influenza A virus (hemagglutinin [HA] and neuraminidase [NA] proteins). There are 16 known HA subtypes and 9 known NA subtypes of influenza A viruses. Many different combinations of HA and NA proteins are possible. Each combination represents a different subtype. All known subtypes of influenza A viruses can be found in birds.

Usually, “avian influenza virus” refers to influenza A viruses found chiefly in birds, but infections with these viruses can occur in humans. The risk from avian influenza is generally low to most people, because the viruses do not usually infect humans. However, confirmed cases of human infection from several subtypes of avian influenza infection have been reported since 1997. Most cases of avian influenza infection in humans have resulted from contact with infected poultry (e.g., domesticated chicken, ducks, and turkeys) or surfaces contaminated with secretion/excretions from infected birds. The spread of avian influenza viruses from one ill person to another person has been reported very rarely, and has been limited, inefficient and unsustained.

"Human influenza A viruses" usually refers to those influenza A subtypes that have spread widely among humans. Currently, H3N2 and H1N1 influenza A subtypes are circulating among humans and H2N2 influenza A circulated from about 1957-1968.

Some genetic parts of current human influenza A viruses had their origin in bird flu viruses originally. Influenza A viruses are constantly changing, and they might adapt over time to infect and spread among humans.

During an outbreak of avian influenza among poultry, there is a possible risk of infection for people who have contact with infected birds or surfaces that have been contaminated with secretions or excretions from infected birds.

Symptoms of avian influenza in humans have ranged from typical human influenza-like symptoms (e.g., fever, cough, sore throat, and muscle aches) to eye infections, pneumonia, severe respiratory diseases (such as acute respiratory distress), and other severe and life-threatening complications. The symptoms of avian influenza may depend on which virus caused the infection.

Studies done in laboratories suggest that some of the antiviral drugs approved in the United States for human influenza viruses should work in treating avian influenza infection in humans. However, influenza viruses can become resistant to these drugs, so these medications may not always work. Additional studies are needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of these medicines. When avian influenza A viruses are identified to cause illness in humans, the viruses should be tested for susceptibility to influenza antiviral medications.

Highly pathogenic Avian Influenza A (H5N1)

Highly pathogenic Influenza A (H5N1) virus – also called "HPAI H5N1 virus" – is an influenza A virus that occurs mainly in birds, is highly contagious among birds, and can be deadly to them, especially domestic poultry. HPAI H5N1 virus does not usually infect people, but infections with these viruses have occurred in humans. Most of these cases have resulted from people having direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces.

Human health risks from HPAI H5N1

Of the few avian influenza viruses that have crossed the species barrier to infect humans, HPAI H5N1 has caused the largest number of detected cases of severe disease and death in humans. However, it is possible that those cases in the most severely ill people are more likely to be diagnosed and reported, while milder cases are less likely to be detected and reported. For the most current information about avian influenza and cumulative case numbers, see the World Health Organization (WHO) avian influenza website.

Of the human cases associated with the ongoing HPAI H5N1 outbreaks in poultry and wild birds in Asia and parts of Europe, the Near East and Africa, about 60% of those people reported infected with the virus have died. Most cases have occurred in previously healthy children and young adults and have resulted from direct or close contact with H5N1-infected poultry or H5N1-contaminated surfaces. In general, HPAI H5N1 remains a very rare disease in people. The HPAI H5N1 virus does not infect humans easily, and if a person is infected, it is very difficult for the virus to spread to another person.

While there has been some human-to-human spread of HPAI H5N1, it has been limited, inefficient and unsustained. For example, in 2004 in Thailand, probable human-to-human spread in a family resulting from prolonged and very close contact between an ill child and her mother was reported. In June 2006, WHO reported evidence of human-to-human spread in Indonesia. In this situation, eight people in one family were infected. The first family member is thought to have become ill through contact with infected poultry. This person then infected six family members. One of those six people (a child) then infected another family member (his father). No further spread outside of the exposed family was identified.

Nonetheless, because all influenza viruses have the ability to change and because the HPAI H5N1 known ability to cause human infections, scientists remain concerned that HPAI H5N1 viruses have the potential to possibly change into a form of the virus that is able to spread easily from person to person. Because these viruses do not commonly infect humans, there is little or no immune protection against them in the human population. If HPAI H5N1 virus were to gain the capacity to spread easily from person to person, an influenza pandemic (worldwide outbreak of disease) could begin. For more information about influenza pandemics, see

Experts from around the world continue to monitor for potential changes in the HPAI H5N1 virus and changes in patterns of human infection and work with the many stakeholders to prepare for the possibility that the virus may begin to spread more easily and widely from person to person. For more information about influenza pandemics, see

Treatment and vaccination for HPAI H5N1 virus in humans

The HPAI H5N1 virus that has caused human illness and death in Asia is resistant to amantadine and rimantadine, two antiviral medications licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for influenza A. However, these drugs are not recommended for influenza treatment at this time because of resistance among both HPAI H5N1 and resistance against circulating human influenza A H1N1 and H3N2 viruses. . Two other antiviral medications, oseltamivir and zanamivir, can be used for the treatment of HPAI H5N1 although WHO guidance includes a preference for oseltamivir.” Borrowed from www-cdc-gov/flu/avian/gen-info/facts.htm

West Nile Virus Borrowed from www-cdc-gov. Please check the CDC for current information.

“West Nile virus has been detected in dead birds of at least 326 species. Although birds, particularly crows and jays, infected with WN virus can die or become ill, most infected birds do survive.

There is no evidence that a person can get WN virus from handling live or dead infected birds. Persons should avoid bare-handed contact when handling any dead animals, and use gloves or double plastic bags to place the bird carcass in a garbage bag or contact their local health department for guidance.”


According to the bird disease study by Jacob and Pescatore, “Certain fungi prefer to grow in soils enriched with avian manures. Histoplasma capsulatum is one of these. The fungus is also associated with construction sites and caves. Birds are not susceptible to infection, but histoplasmosis can affect humans, dogs, cats, cattle, sheep, horses, and many wild mammals.

Histoplasmosis outbreaks are common in the U.S. Published reports estimate that 50,000-200,000 cases occur annually. Histoplasmosis is believed to be endemic in the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys of the U.S. Michigan is considered a low or intermediate endemic area but still has weekly reportable cases of histoplasmosis.

People get histoplasmosis by inhaling the organism Histoplasma capsulatum. Infected individuals typically have mild flu-like symptoms including fever, cough, headaches and muscle aches. Once infected, it typically takes 3-17 days for symptoms to occur. The chronic form of histoplasmosis can mimic tuberculosis. According to the National Eye Institute, untreated histoplasmosis can cause a serious eye disease called Ocular Histoplasmosis Syndrome (OHS), a leading cause of vision loss in Americans between 20 and 40 years of age. Histoplasmosis is not spread person-to-person.

Histoplasma capsulatum already exists in most soils, but it uses droppings from birds or bats as a nutrient source for its growth and development of spores. Wet the area and wear a face mask or respirator when working in suspect surroundings. Spraying the soil with a formaldehyde solution has been used to kill the fungi.

Although this disease is avian-associated, it is not a considered a zoonotic disease, because the reservoir is soil and not the birds. This is, however, of little consequence to the unfortunate person who may become infected.

Human cases of histoplasmosis are not just associated with poultry. Wild birds and bats are an important source as well. As a result, the following occupations are at greater risk: bridge inspectors or painters, chimney cleaners, construction workers, demolition workers, farmers, gardeners, roofers, pest control workers, etc.


Chlamydiosis is caused by the bacterial parasite Chlamydia psittaci. They are considered parasites since they live within animal cells. The disease is commonly referred to as psittacosis or parrot fever when it occurs in psittacine birds (curve-beaked, like parrots, parakeets, etc.).

C. psittaci can cause disease in several animal species including humans, birds, cows, goats, sheep and pigs. Most human cases are contracted from pet birds (like parrots or parakeets), pigeons, and turkeys. The city pigeon is the most common carrier within the United States.

Birds with chlamydiosis may have inflamed eyes, respiratory distress, diarrhea (sometimes bloody) and green urates (birds typically excrete fecal material with white uric acid crystals). Many infected birds, however, show no symptoms at all until they are stressed, as with transportation, crowding, poor nutrition, etc.

Chlamydiosis is spread from bird-to-bird mainly through contaminated fecal dust. It can, however, be spread by ’carrier’ birds. This birds are infected with the organism but do not look sick. They shed the organism into the environment where other birds can pick it up and get sick. The organism is excreted in both the feces and nasal secretions. Carrier birds can continue to shed the bacteria for several years. It should also be noted that C. psittaci survives drying, which makes contaminated clothing and equipment potential sources of infection.

People usually get chlamydiosis when they inhale contaminated dust in the air. It can take five to fourteen days after exposure before you get sick. (Referred to as the incubation period). Symptoms are very similar to those of the flu—fever, diarrhea, chills, swollen eyes, and sore throat. If untreated, complications can develop such as an enlarged spleen, an inflammation of the heart muscle, or a reduced heart rate. The main group of people that are at risk of getting chlamydiosis are those that who work in areas where they can breathe in dust from bird poop. Once a person is infected, they can spread the disease to family and friends, but such methods of spreading the disease are rare.

It is important to remember that people can be exposed to bird poop dust anywhere there is a bird infestation. There have been cases where wildlife biologists have gotten sick when collecting wild birds for observation and banding. Those involved in racing pigeons are another group of people at risk. There were cases in Minnesota and North Carolina where workers in turkey processing plants got sick—and they did not have any birds at home. Work was the only place with possible sources of infection. The treatment for both people and birds is the antibiotic tetracycline. People are typically treated for three days while birds are treated for 46 days. Pigeons and turkeys may require long-term flock therapy to eliminate carriers.

Typically, a common way to counteract bird residue with this infection is cleaning the area with a 5% solution of household bleach or a commercial disinfectant to reduce of infection.

People who have weakened immune systems, such as the elderly, young children, transplant patients and cancer patients, are at increased risk of serious disease and complications.

Salmonellosis There are approximately 200 different serotypes of Salmonella species. Pullorum disease (S. pullorum) and fowl typhoid (S. gallinarum) are two classic poultry diseases that have received considerable attention because of the economic impact they can have on the poultry industry. S. typimurium is the third salmonella disease of interest. S. gallinarum is typically not a public health concern since human infections are rare. There are only occasional human infections with S. pullorum. S. typimurium is the most common cause of food-borne diseases in humans. Food poisoning is characterized by acute intestinal pain and diarrhea.

Most human cases of salmonella are acquired by eating contaminated food rather than from pet birds. In people the incubation period is 6-72 hours. Vomiting, bloody diarrhea, fever and dehydrate may occur. Recovery typically occurs in 2-4 days. Salmonella can be transmitted from person-to-person. In addition, humans carrying salmonella can infect their pet birds.

In most cases, treatment of salmonellosis simply involves treatment of the symptoms with fluids and electrolytes. Antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, nitrofurans, or ampicillin are only indicated when the bacteria has localized in a particular area of the body.


Arizona infections are caused by the bacteria Salmonella arizona, previously known as Arizona hinshawii. Salmonella arizona is biochemically different from other Salmonella serotypes. S. arizona occurs worldwide. It occurs most frequently in reptiles and birds, but all animals are probably susceptible. In North America, arizonosis is of particular significance in turkeys. In most poultry species S. arizona infection produces symptoms identical to salmonellosis. Outbreaks in turkeys, chickens, and canaries can have up to 60% mortality.

The incubation period is 6-72 hours, although 12-36 hours is most common. The disease is spread by consumption of infected fecal material (known as the fecal-oral route) although there is some transmission through eggs. Infected birds can become long-term intestinal carriers. Numerous antibiotics reduce case fatality, but do not clear intestines of the carrier state. S. arizona is somewhat less hardy than most salmonella species but can still survive for months in soil, feed and water.

Avian Tuberculosis

Avian tuberculosis is caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium avium. At least 20 different types of M. avium have been identified but only three typically cause disease in birds. Parrots, macaws, and other large perching birds, however, are susceptible to human and bovine types of tuberculosis. Avian tuberculosis is usually spread in a flock by direct contact with infected birds or by eating contaminated feed/water.

There have been several confirmed cases of M. avium infection in people, although humans are considered highly resistant to this bacteria. Avian tuberculosis does not typically transfer between people. Infection is more likely to occur in people with preexisting diseases, especially those having an infection affecting the respiratory system.

People with the highest risk are those with weakened immune systems weakened such as those with AIDS, undergoing treatment for cancer or recently receiving an organ transplant.

While most Mycobacterium infections are treatable with antibiotics, M. avium infection is the exception. M. avium is highly resistant to antibiotics. Surgical excision and lymph node removal are often necessary to eliminate infection.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) is often known as sleeping sickness of horses. Although named after its affects on horses, outbreaks have occurred in commercially raised pheasants, chickens, bobwhite quail, ducks, turkeys, and emus. Abdominal distress and diarrhea are the most obvious signs.

EEE is transmitted by mosquito. The mosquitoes become infected and feed on birds, horses, and humans, spreading the infection. In pheasants, initial infection is mosquitoborne, but additional transfer occurs by pecking and cannibalism. Most epidemics occur between late August and the first frost. Cases may occur year-round in areas like Florida which have a prolonged mosquito season.

People can get EEE and human cases typically arise after the disease has appeared in horses. EEE usually affects people under 15 or over 50 years of age. In adults there is a sudden onset of high fever, headache, vomiting, and lethargy, progressing rapidly to neck stiffness, convulsions, delirium, tremors, and coma. In children, EEE infection typically results in a fever, headaches and vomiting for 1-2 days. After an apparent recovery, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) can occur and retardation or other permanent neurologic consequences are common in survivors.

A human vaccine is available and is recommended for anyone working with infected horses or tissues from infected animals.


Another fungus that prefers to grow in soils enriched with avian manures is Cryptococcus neoformans. Infections are seen in many mammal species, but occur most frequently in humans, horses, dogs, and cats. Infections are rare in birds. The association of the disease with birds is primarily through the fungus preference for soils enriched by bird manure.

Humans can get cryptococcosis from exposure to old pigeon nests or droppings. Typically roosting and nesting sites for pigeons include attics, ledges, schools, offices, warehouses, barns, park buildings, etc. These areas should be considered as potential sources of infection from the fungus.

In humans, a Cryptococcus neoformans infection typically starts as a respiratory infection with a cough, headache, stiff neck and visual disturbances. While the people are usually infected by breathing in the fungus, the fungus can also enter the body through the skin. Once a person has recovered from the infection, the fungus can remain in their body so that a future reactivation of the infection is possible.

As with histoplasmosis, this disease is avian-associated, but not a zoonotic disease because the reservoir is in soil and not the birds. Cryptococcosis is not typically spread from animal-to-animal or from animal-to-human. There was a case, however, where a person with a poor immune system acquired cryptococcosis from the fecal material of a pet bird that was not showing any signs of the disease.


Cryptosporidiosis is caused by protozoa of the genus Cryptosporidium. There are three known species, C. baileyi, C. meleagridis, and an unnamed species that occurs in quail. Cryptosporidiosis normally causes respiratory problems in chickens and turkeys but it can also cause inflammation of the digestive tract and diarrhea.

In humans, cryptosporidiosis causes abdominal pain, nausea, and watery diarrhea lasting 3-4 days. In immunocompromised people, it can cause severe, persistent diarrhea with associated malabsorption of nutrients and weight loss.

The incubation period is 3-7 days, and it is spread via the fecal-oral route by ingestion of infective oocysts.


Colibacillosis is caused by Escherichia coli infection. E. coli is a bacteria which normally inhabits the intestinal tract of all animals. There are a number of different strains, many species-specific. Not all strains are pathogenic. In poultry, E. coli infections may cause septicemia, chronic respiratory disease, synovitis (inflammation of the joints which can lead to lameness), pericarditis (inflammation of the sac around the heart), and salpingitis (inflammation of the oviduct).

Humans with colibacillosis usually manifest diarrhea which may be complicated by other syndromes depending on the E. coli serotype. These complications may include fever, dysentery, shock, and purpura (multiple small purplish hemorrhages in the skin and mucous membranes).

The incubation period for E. coli infections is 12 hours to 5 days, although 12-72 hours is most common. Transmission is via the fecal-oral route. Colibacillosis is often food- or water-borne. In most cases, only treatment of the symptoms is required. In more severe infections, antibiotics such as tetracycline and chloramphenicol may be necessary.

Allergic Alveolitis

Allergic alveolitis is human condition, also known as farmer’s lung, pigeon breeder's lung, budgerigar dander pneumoconiosis, and a variety of other complex names. Although animal producers are at risk, it is not really a zoonotic disease.

Human cases may occur as an acute, sub-acute, or chronic problem. Clinical signs are caused by reduced lung capacity due to an allergic reaction to feathers, dander, or fecal dust.

The acute form of the disease is usually caused by an overwhelming exposure in a previously sensitized individual, such as that which might occur in cleaning out a pigeon loft. Symptoms develop within a short period of time and include a cough, difficulty breathing, fever, and chills. If exposure is stopped at this point, the symptoms typically go away and no treatment is necessary.

Chronic, low-grade exposure is more serious. The symptoms are similar to those of the stubborn cold or the flu so a misdiagnosis is possible. Affected individuals have a chronic cough and are unable to exercise but experience weight loss. Permanent lung damage may occur if not properly treated.

Chronic allergic alveolitis can develop in as little as two years, but usually takes 10-20 years. Patients diagnosed with the chronic form of the disease may have no choice except to eliminate all exposure to birds. Exposure to even tiny quantities of feathers, dander, or feces may precipitate a recurrence of severe respiratory distress. The severity of the disease can be reduced by wearing face masks while cleaning bird feces.” This section may be borrowed all or in part by research from the University and State of Kentucky and an a study by Jacob and Pescatore on bird diseases important to humans.

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