In my field of work which is trying to compensate workers from the Atomic Age from exposure to toxic substances, I ran across a particular case this week and thought that this was a great story to share. I was researching information about a gentleman who shoveled up pigeon excrement and had a lung disease. This disease is actually common around the Ohio Valley area where I live. Farmers, landscapers, construction workers and people who have contact with bird or bat droppings are especially at risk for histoplasmosis.
Pigeon excrement is highly acidic which helped in the demise of the bridge. So can exposure to pigeon excrement cause damage to humans? Yes.
According to the Center of Disease Control (CDC), symptoms depend on the type of infection:
Acute asymptomatic pulmonary (lung) histoplasmosis -- no symptoms
Acute symptomatic pulmonary histoplasmosis:
Chest pain when breathing in
Chronic pulmonary histoplasmosis:
Fever - may resemble symptoms of pulmonary tuberculosis and include coughing up blood (hemoptysis)
Shortness of breath
Other histoplasma symptoms:
Skin nodules (red lumps called erythema nodosum)
For your protection, you should minimize your exposure to pigeon and bat excrement. If you have to come in contact with it, you should wear protective equipment such as masks or self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA).
Find out more from the Mayo Clinic here http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/histoplasmosis/DS00517.
Do you know of anyone who contacted histoplasmosis from exposure to excrement? Please share your story.
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