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Cliff Swallows at Jenny Lind Elementary and Toyon Middle Schools
There is a huge risk when maintenance is deferred. Sometimes the outcome is mold and moisture issues in aged portables. Other times, deferred maintenance rises up as a health and safety issue—like the Cliff Swallows nesting in the overhangs at ToyonMiddle School and Jenny Lind Elementary.
Swallows, particularly cliff swallows, Hirundo pyrrhonota, often live in close proximity to people. While enjoyable to watch, cliff swallows nesting in colonies on buildings and other structures can become a nuisance. Their droppings can foul machinery, create aesthetic problems, and cause potential health hazards by contaminating foodstuffs. Their mud nests eventually fall to the ground and can cause similar problems. In addition, swallow nests frequently contain mites and insects such as swallow bugs (Oeciacus vicarius); swallow bugs are related to bed bugs and will bite humans, although humans are not their usual host.
Mud, cliff and barn swallows do carry diseases: includinghistoplasmosis,encephalitis,salmonella,cryptococcus,and toxoplasmosis. These swallow illnesses are spread by contact with swallow poop, nest materials and dead swallows.
Histoplasmosisis a fungus disease contracted through airborne spores in swallow droppings. If swallows have been on your roof for a while, these spores can even infect the soil you garden in down below. Its symptoms may be anything from a mild influenza to blood abnormalities and fever, or even death. An eye condition has been linked to histoplasmosis and it can lead to blindness in those who contract it.
Toxoplasmosisis an infection that invades human tissue and can severely damage the central nervous system, especially in babies. Pregnant women are in extreme danger if infected with toxoplasmosis.
Swallows carry the bacteriasalmonella. People who pick up salmonella bacteria can become seriously ill with diarrhea, vomiting, fever and chills. Salmonella can also affect the blood. Swallow salmonella can be spread through swallow fecal matter.
Encephalitiscan lead to fever, headache, vomiting and eventually coma, seizures and paralysis. Encephalitis is brain inflammation caused by a virus.
Cryptococcosis, one of the commonly carried swallow diseases, infects the lungs of humans. It is transmitted by inhaling the yeast-like cells of the organism. Cryptococcosis can also cause acne-like ulcers on the skin.