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pigeons and their droppings
Dec 24, 1999

We have alot of pigeons that roost in our trees, we are both HIV +. Should we be concerned about any opprtunistic infections that pigeons may carry? If so, could you sight any medical literature to back this up.

Response from Dr. Feinberg

Pigeons can harbor cryptococcus and other kinds of germs which is shed in their dropppings. If your T cells are above 200, there is little chance of developing opportunistic cryptococcal infection, which is most commonly seen as a form of meningitis (an infections of the brain covering) and less often as a blood infection. However, even HIV-negative people can develop cryptococcal infection (usually pneumonia but sometimes other forms like meningitis) if they are exposed to a large amount of droppings (for example, someone who cleans bird cages in pet stores where the birds carry the germ). You should avoid walking and especially kicking up the dirt where there seem to be a lot of droppings, because the germ gets into your body by being inhaled. You can look this up in any infectious diseases texbook, such as the ones by Mandell/Dolin/Bennett or Gorbach/Bartlett/Blacklow in the library.


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