Pigeon droppings could spread diseases: Expert
Published on: Monday, July 13, 2020
By: The Star
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GEORGE TOWN: Feeding pigeons will only add to public health hazards, warns ornithologist Dr Gino Ooi. 

He said pigeon droppings could spread diseases through airborne fungal spores and bacteria.

“About 20 years ago, there was a trend for rearing pigeons by the flock in Hong Kong, using coops built on the rooftops of high-rise residences.

“The hobby triggered the spread of psittacosis like disease that includes pneumonia and inflammation of the brain in serve case,” he said.

According to Hong Kong Health Protection’s website, psittacosis is transmitted to humans who inhale the dried droppings, respiratory secretions and feather dust of birds infected with the bacteria Chlamydia psittaci.

Ooi, who owns the Penang Bird Park, said while some people find feeding pigeons entertaining or relaxing and others do it out of kindness, they did not realise the health risk they were creating.

Pigeons - credit: pexels.com.

He said pigeons spread the disease quickly because they live in dense flocks close to humans.

“Pigeons are entirely reliant on humans for food and nesting places.

“They do not roost or nest in tress at all and only dwell in man-made structures. They do not look for food in the wild. They depend on us entirely.

‘I am a bird lover. I don’t like to describe a bird in a bad way. But I don’t want us to trigger a disease outbreak like in Hong Kong,” he said.

On the thick layer of aged pigeons dung that carpeted the floor of abandoned units in Rifle Range Flats in Ayer Itam that are now infested with pigeons, Ooi said: “Generations of pigeons were born there. This is bad for Riffle Range residents. 

“The wind and even the movements of pigeons flying in and out of the flat can spread potentially dangerous airborne bacteris and fungal spores.”


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