Pigeons carry a number of diseases and can cause excessive damage to Arizona property, buildings, automobiles and machinery. The droppings deface buildings, walkways and sidewalks. The pungent odor and unclean appearance is unpleasant to passing pedestrians and customers. Economic losses can be significant due to the need to clean droppings, repair damage and to maintain safe working conditions. In addition, feathers can plug ventilation units and can cause other problems including health hazards. These problems require an expert that specializes in pigeon control.
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The general public's affection toward birds translates into a serious underestimation of the health risks associated with pest birds. People who would never tolerate a colony of rats living in their attic will turn a blind eye towards pigeons entrenched in the rafters of their roof. Diseases need to be transported from place to place in order to spread. Birds are a perfect mechanism for spreading disease because they travel great distances, harbour over forty types of parasites and can host internally over sixty types of infectious diseases including the West Nile virus...
Birds Cause Damage:
Pest birds cause tens of millions of dollars of damage every year to buildings, machinery, automobiles, roofs, ventilation systems and much more. Bird droppings are very acidic. They eat away at many substrates, especially tar-based roofing materials. Pigeon, starling and sparrow nests are often built in rain gutters, drains and corners of roofs where drains are located resulting in blockages that can cause severe flooding and water damage.
Acidic bird droppings can do great damage to air conditioning equipment, industrial machinery, siding, insulation etc. When birds build their nests inside electric signs or other machinery there is a great risk of fire. Electric sign companies blame bird nests for most of their sign fires.
Bird nests built in chimneys and ventilation systems can spread diseases through the system and block air-flow which can have horrible consequences. Most bird droppings, but especially pigeon and gull, will fade paint finishes by actually eating into the protective coating and the paint itself. Droppings and nesting materials on or around a building send a message to the public that this building is not properly maintained. One is forced to wonder how clean a restaurant's kitchen could be if they don't even care about bird droppings dripping down the sign.
Pigeons enter attics of houses, apartments, restaurants and other buildings through openings. In most cases the pigeons build nests and discard their bodily waste. Often the weight of the droppings becomes so great that the actual ceiling collapses.
Wild birds are important to public health because they can be infected by a number of pathogenic microorganisms that are transmissible to humans. In addition, birds migrating across national and intercontinental borders can become long-range vectors for any bacterium, virus, parasite, or drug-resistant organism they harbor. This creates the potential for the establishment of new endemic foci of disease along migration routes. Among the most important of these disorders are "emerging infectious diseases (EIDs)," i.e., diseases that are newly recognized or previously known diseases that appear in new populations or are rapidly increasing in incidence or geographic range. In the U.S., the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has listed over 30 EIDs that are believed to pose significant risks to human health in the 21st Century. Wild birds are known to be reservoirs for several of these agents, including arbo-viruses such as West Nile virus (WNV), Borrelia burgdorferi, influenza A virus, enteric bacterial pathogens, and drug-resistant bacteria. In addition, wild birds can be infested by arthropod vectors, which can drop off and disperse pathogens along migration routes, even if the avian host is not a competent reservoir of infection.
Only recently have the complex inter-relationships between infectious diseases of wildlife, domestic animals, and humans become fully appreciated. This article reviews important aspects of birds and migration as they relate to the epidemiology of EIDs. The emphasis is on several zoonotic pathogens that are likely to become or remain public health problems in the near future. WNV is a mosquito-borne virus that can result in fatal encephalitis in humans, horses, and domestic and wild birds. This positive-stranded RNA virus belongs to the Japanese encephalitis complex within the family Flaviviridae. It was first isolated from a woman in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937. Since then, the recognized geographic distribution of the virus in the Old World has been found to include much of Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia and the Middle East. Outbreaks of WNV infections in humans have been documented in Algeria, Romania, the Czech Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Russia. Epizootics involving horses have occurred in Morocco and Italy.
The 1999 outbreak of WNV in New York was an unexpected and sobering reminder of the impact an EID can have on public health in the United States. Never before seen in the New World, the initial epidemic resulted in 62 cases of severe encephalitis in humans, including seven deaths. In addition, significant mortality was noted among horses and numerous species of resident and exotic birds. Although the 1999 epidemic was tightly confined to the New York City area, the next several years brought rapid expansion of the geographic range of the virus, first along the eastern seaboard and then progressively inland, reaching California in just three years.
Wild birds are central to the transmission cycle of WNV because they serve as amplifying hosts for the virus in nature. In the U.S., over 110 avian species, mostly songbirds, have been found to be susceptible to infection. Members of the family Corvidae (crows, jays and magpies) are especially important because they develop severe illness and have a high mortality rate. This makes them useful as sentinels for the presence of virus in new endemic areas. Fortunately most other bird species show few symptoms of infection, but are viremic for several days after exposure and then develop life-long immunity. The virus is passed from one bird to another by the bite of ornithophilic mosquitoes, generally Culex spp. Numerous other mosquito species have been shown to be competent vectors of infection.
The mechanism for introduction of WNV to the New World is not known with certainty. One plausible scenario is that infected mosquitoes arrived in the U.S. as stowaways on commercial aircraft or ships. This is unlikely since the percentage of WNV-positive mosquitoes is extraordinarily low, even in areas of active transmission. It is more likely that the initial outbreak was associated with the arrival of infected birds to the U.S. This could have occurred by normal migration, since several gull and duck species have transatlantic migration routes. Other possibilities include displacement of birds from their normal range by tropical storms or from legal or illegal importation. It seems less likely that an infected human or domestic animal was the source of introduction. Mammals infected with WNV generally develop low levels of viremia and are incapable of sustaining a transmission cycle in nature.
The geographic expansion of the range for WNV in the U.S. from 1999 to 2000 was along the Atlantic seaboard, a common migration route for many bird species that have summer ranges in the northeastern U.S.27 Once the infected birds reached southern Florida, a continuous enzootic cycle was established, since mosquitoes are active year-round in sub-tropical climates. From 2000 to 2002, extension of the endemic area westward occurred faster than what might be predicted for contiguous spread of infection. Rapid spread may have been the result of birds having elliptical migration routes. These species fly easterly routes on their southern migration, but choose more inland routes during the spring.