Our expert says:
I had this problem myself, and the main health problem I suffered was psychological: the noise the pigeons made cooing and walking around on the ceiling drove me crazy!
There are potential diseases associated with birds, but these are rare, and only people who spend a lot of time with birds (e.g. bird breeders) are really at risk. Also, people who are immunocompromised, such as anyone who has HIV/AIDS or other serious chronic conditions, are at higher risk for contracting the more serious forms of these diseases. And, you should be more concerned about the problem if there are elderly people or small children in the home. But this is not considered a serious health issue for the average person.
Most of the diseases humans can get from pigeons and other birds arise as a result of breathing in or ingesting dust from bird droppings, so it's not a bad idea to clear these away if they've built up over time. Simple personal hygiene (especially regular handwashing) is also important. Some people (again, usually people who keep or work with birds) develop allergies to dust they inhale from bird droppings, feathers or dander. Pigeon mites can also affect humans, but these parasites prefer the avian host. The other possible health risk is if the pigeons can get into your water system. I mention this because it did in fact happen in my building: a pigeon drowned in the hot-water tank, which was open.
If you do have pigeons in the ceiling, it's best to chase them out (they'll fly out without much urging), clear away the droppings, and close up the hole by which the birds originally entered. It's quite unnecessary to have the birds exterminated or to use poison etc., whatever the pest exterminator companies may say.
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