Where there's birds, there's bound to be plenty of poop. But a report over at CBS News might make you never want to step outside ever again (unless if it involves wearing a hazmat suit).
The story involves a 24-year-old woman named Erica Richards, who lost her sight in 2012 after developing Cryptococcus meningitis, a fungal disease carried in the guts of pigeons and other birds.
Depending on the circumstances, the spores of the fungus can easily be inhaled by the lungs and can make you seriously ill. In Erica's case, she happened to be living in a house that had a pile of pigeon feces in the attic (ew!). Add that to a compromised immune system from chemotherapy, and it didn't take long for the disease to attack her spine and brain, causing severe swelling. It left her confined to a hospital bed in a state of delirium for weeks.
Despite losing her eyesight, Erica wants to make sure people know the risk of coming into contact with pigeon feces:
"To draw attention, to raise awareness so people will ask questions, so they will know what the symptoms are," Richards said. "So that way, they can be warned ahead of time, before what happened to me happens to them."
And if that doesn't make you want to go out and shoot pigeons, then you might want to know that these birds also host a
long list of disease-causing organisms which include Chlamydia and
salmonella. Maybe that's why New Yorker's sometimes refer to pigeons as 'rats of the sky'.