Saw an ad for Puerto Rico in the NY Times that featured the Pigeon Park. Pigeon Park is a hidden wonder of Old San Juan. You can walk amongst the birds who claim this area as their home. And why wouldn't they? For a small fee, you can feed them from your hands as they perch, or on your head. They'll come. While there I had thoughts about the warnings I had heard about the diseases transmitted by pigeons.
Examples of transmissible bird diseases associated with pigeons, geese, starling and house sparrows:
-- Histoplasmosis is a respiratory disease that may be fatal. It results from a fungus growing in dried bird droppings.
-- Candidiasis is a yeast or fungus infection spread by pigeons. The disease affects the skin, the mouth, the respiratory system, the intestines and the urogenital tract, especially the vagina. It is a growing problem for women, causing itching, pain and discharge.
-- Cryptococcosis is caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings. The illness often begins as a pulmonary disease and may later affect the central nervous system. Since attics, cupolas, ledges, schools, offices, warehouses, mills, barns, park buildings, signs, etc. are typical roosting and nesting sites, the fungus is apt to found in these areas.
-- Salmonellosis often occurs as "food poisoning" and can be traced to pigeons, starlings and sparrows. The disease bacteria are found in bird droppings; dust from droppings can be sucked through ventilators and air conditioners, contaminating food and cooking surfaces in restaurants, homes and food processing plants.
Fortunately, I did not suffer any of these diseases, but I do avoid trips to pigeon park.