Public Health

Pest Management

Why Birds Are a Concern

Birds are not generally a concern from a disease standpoint, but when they gather in large numbers in close proximity to human populations, the accumulation of droppings can pose health problems as well as other concerns. Depending on their location and the likelihood of human exposure, dropping accumulation can cause:

  • Too much weight on a structure, leading to structural damage
  • Unsightly appearance/foul odor
  • Disease

The most pressing of these problems from a health and safety standpoint is disease. The primary fungal disease of concern is histoplasmosis. The disease is caused by the inhalation of spores that are associated with bird droppings.   Unlike bats, birds do not carry the disease.  Their droppings serve as a nutrient source for the disease causing spores to proliferate.  The hazard is created when the dry droppings are disturbed and the disease causing spores become airborne.

Removal of Droppings

Removal of a small amount of bat and bird droppings:

Spray the area with a mixture of bleach and water (ratio of 1 part of bleach to 9 parts of cool water) just to dampen the area.  This will also prevent aerosolizing any droppings during removal.  Scoop up droppings and place in a plastic bag and dispose.

After the droppings have been removed, scrub the area with the same concentration of bleach water, rinse thoroughly.  Place contaminated gloves in plastic bag and dispose of bag in trash.

Personal Protection Equipment required:

    • Safety glasses or goggles
    • Latex gloves
    • N-100 dust mask

Removal of large accumulations of bat and bird droppings

This removal can be very complicated because of the chemicals used, personal protective equipment and the protection of people living in the area.  The cleanup must be done by professional companies that specialize in the removal of hazardous waste.

The Centers for Disease Control recommends consulting the NIOSH/NCID document Histoplasmosis: Protecting Workers at Risk.before starting a job or activity where there is a possibility of being exposed to H. capsulatum.

Additional information:

CDC:  Histoplasmosis- Protecting Workers at Risk