Chris Webb" />
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Tuesday, September 26, 2023


Pigeon poop poses major threat

When you visit the University Center Arbor, watch where you step and what you touch. Along the path to some of the University’s most important facilities are multiple biohazard sites, courtesy of the large flock of pigeons allowed to roam freely around the area.

The pigeons are a nuisance. They defecate everywhere: along the walkways, stairs and handrails of the UC. They also fly fearlessly throughout the area, sometimes narrowly missing UC visitors’ heads. They create a health and safety hazard for the public and should be either relocated or eliminated.

Pigeon fecal matter is disgusting and dangerous. Pigeon droppings contain various fungi, protozoa, viruses and bacteria; the birds themselves are hosts to many parasites.

Histoplasmosis is a fungal disease in pigeon feces. It is transmitted through the air, and when inhaled can cause pulmonary infection which sometimes spreads to the liver and spleen. If the feces remain exposed, which they generally do at the UC, the histoplasmosis fungus grows quickly. Once the spores are kicked up from the walkway or blown about by constant breeze, transmission and infection are possible.

Listeriosis is a disease caused by the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, also found in pigeons. It can attack the nervous system and cause endocarditis and skin infections. It also adversely affects fetuses and has been linked to stillbirths.

Another disease, Pasteurellosis, is highly contagious and is caused by the Pasteurella multicida bacteria, found in pigeon feces. It can enter the body through the skin and lungs, and symptoms include respiratory infections and fever. Pigeon feces can also spread salmonella. In its dried state, the feces can contaminate food, either through outside exposure or through ventilation systems.

Encephalitis and meningitis are two viral infections carried by pigeons. These diseases can cause paralysis and both carry a high mortality rate.

There are many other diseases that potentially come from pigeon feces. The infrequency of thorough sanitizing of the UC area requires action against this swarm of flying vermin.

As mentioned before, the walkways and handrails of the UC are stained with pigeon feces. Given the quasi-outdoor nature of the UC, there is a significant chance of contamination of visitors’ shoes and hands. The University must be more responsible for students’ and others’ safety and health concerning this situation. These pigeons should be trapped and taken to another location, have their wings clipped or perhaps even exterminated en masse. Another alternative is to clean and sanitize every area of the UC Arbor multiple times daily, which is unlikely to happen.

Would the University allow groups of stray cats or rats to run around the UC defecating anywhere with impunity? The smokers were chased out of the UC Arbor, so should be the pigeons.

Students and other visitors to the UC area can be more vigilant to help prevent contamination. No one should feed the pigeons. This only gives them more cause to visit the UC and perch where humans sit. Of course, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands with soap frequently.

The University must take action against this disgusting, hazardous situation. Until then, watch your step.

Webb, a political science and creative writing senior, can be reached via [email protected].

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