The general public does not think of birds as being a health hazard like rats, raccoons etc. Homeowners wouldn't tolerate a colony of rats or raccoons living in their home; however they will turn away to birds living in the rafters of their roof. Yet the disease and damage caused by the different pests can be quite similar.
Diseases carried by pest birds:
BACTERIAL DISEASES Disease caused by bacteria is a more common cause of
Mortality in wild birds than are those caused by viruses. In addition to infection, some bacteria cause disease as a result of potent toxins that they produce. Salmonella is a common, but seldom fatal, human infection that can be acquired from infected wild birds.
FUNGAL DISEASES This germ is harmless most of the time, but sometimes it can cause a problem called a fungal infection. These infections are typically acquired directly from contact with infected humans or animals or indirectly from exposure to contaminated soil or feces.
VIRAL Viruses are the smallest life-form existing, since they are not even a single cell. It is almost like they are not alive at all. They are small strands of DNA-like cell material. A virus consists mostly of RNA and cannot survive without host cells.
PROTOZOAL Protozoa disease can cause diarrhea, gas, bloating, weight loss, fatigue, or a range of other intestinal problems. In addition, it can cause a constant feeling of being sick or unwell, confused memory, nightmares, blood-sugar swings, and musculoskeletal pains.
RICKETTSIAL Rickettsial pox is an infectious disease spread by a mite and characterized by a chickenpox-like rash.
This trivia clearly qualifies for the "Did you know?" category. According to Dr. Steven B. Jacobs, Urban Entomologist at the Pennsylvania State University, Department of Entomology, bed bugs (Cimex lectularius L.) can also infest pigeons.
In addition to the 60 or so diseases potentially transmitted by urban pigeons, the birds can also move bed bugs around. While obviously not the most common means of transmission, under the right conditions, birds will relocate bed bugs around a building or around town. For further information see the Fact Sheet at the Penn State Entomology Department web site.
Besides the diseases birds are known to carry they also have lots of little parasites living beneath their immaculate feathers. Most of these bird parasites prefer birds: they may climb onto human skin, especially if they find themselves marooned in the nest, or if the host bird has died, but they generally don't stay. Before long, they wander off in search of a more suitable host.
Don't handle dead birds or recently vacated nests with bare hands.
Meanwhile, don't panic about birds and disease! The risk is small and a few common sense precautions will make it negligible.