News: Woman contracts meningitis from pigeons

Pigeons have always seemed kind of dirty to me, and I always try to keep my distance. I grew up

pigeon

Pigeons have always seemed kind of dirty to me, and I always try to keep my distance. I grew up in New York City, need I say more? But l never thought that coming into contact with pigeon poop (inevitable in a big city) could be dangerous.

According to the Ottawa Citizen, a New Brunswick woman almost died and is now blind after coming into contact with pigeon feces.

Erica Richards contacted cryptococcal meningitis, a fungal disease carried in the feces of pigeons that attacks the spine and brain. She says the odds of surviving the disease is 50-50. Richards, 23 years old and healthy, now has to deal with the devastating consequences of becoming blind.

The scariest thing for me about this story is that Richards says she has no recollection of being anywhere near pigeons. So what could she have done to prevent this? It’s tough to avoid these birds’and even tougher when well-meaning people attract large flocks by feeding them.

Earlier this month, Fredericton, New Brunswick city council tightened their animal control bylaws making it illegal to feed pigeons. A simple Google search results in hundreds of articles related to the various attempts made by cities who also are trying to control their pigeon populations.

From her hospital bed, Richards is asking people not to feed the pigeons. ‘Try to shoo them away, if you see them,’ she told the Citizen.

Does this story make you think twice about feeding pigeons?  Is there a bigger issue here about the cohabitation between humans and nature?

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