Whether you own a hotel, run a hospital, or manage a public facility, the accumulation of bird feces around your buildings is not likely to attract new business. Certainly, “curb appeal” is lost. But aesthetics aside, bird droppings are simply dangerous–posing health risks to everyone in the vicinity. Entomologist research has found more than 60 transmittable bird-borne diseases and dangerous parasitic organisms which can be fatal to some people and cause others to fall ill.
Where the avian flu typically is ingested by mouth through feces-contaminated water, other bird-borne diseases are ingested by breathing airborne spores of bird feces. When dried-out droppings are disturbed, a cloud of airborne dust carries microorganisms into the lungs, causing inhalation diseases such as histoplasmosis, which is the most common of the diseases associated with pest birds. Eating or drinking foods that have come into contact with bird-related bacteria can cause ingestion diseases such as toxoplasmosis and query fever. (Ntl Pest Control Assn Inc. 1982 Bird Management Manual.) Commonly, roosting birds will congregate on rooftops around HVAC units—a real danger to people inside the buildings, since the dust gets pulled into the HVAC system and spread throughout the building.
How can you prevent birds from roosting and leaving their disease-ridden mess on your buildings and other structures? Whether on ledges of residential buildings, monuments, parks and recreation buildings, or around food distribution centers, bird droppings are a health hazard which can be alleviated with a variety of bird control devices. The most popular is known as “porcupine wire.”
According to Cory Gellerstedt of Nixalite of America, there are several routes that can be taken to control roosting birds. “Some are more dangerous than others, like chemical repellants, which carry a host of cautions with them. The most popular deterrent by far is the “porcupine wire” strips. They last practically forever, and don’t require maintenance. Plus they don’t harm birds or people.”
Gellerstedt adds that there are many different types of porcupine wire and you should be very careful when choosing one of these products. “Some of the deterrents are constructed of all high quality stainless steel, some are made of plastic, and others use a combination of the two. The stainless steel models cost a bit more, but the longevity they provide is worth it. Plastic can become brittle when cold and soft when it is hot and will eventually deteriorate from direct exposure to sunlight.
“Most importantly, you need to pay attention to the number of wire points per inch. The best products have points that are strategically configured close together and pointing in all directions. These will control smaller as well as larger birds. Many of the porcupine wire products available have large gaps between the wires and small birds can sit or nest in between them. I recommend a 100% stainless steel product with 120 points per foot for the best protection and longevity, with little or no maintenance.”
What can a layperson do to stay safe? Since we don’t know if people can become infected through handling, eating, or getting bitten by infected host animals, care should be taken when in a potentially risky situation. Use gloves when picking up dead birds or mammals, or grab the carcass with a plastic bag and then invert it to the inside of the bag. Contact your County or State Health Department. If they want the dead bird or animal they will make arrangements to come get it. If not, it’s best to double bag it in plastic and put it in the trash. (Ntl Audubon Society, 2005 “West Nile Virus.”