What Parents (of School Children)
Should Know About Cliff Swallows
According to the
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.
According to the website: United Wildlife Control http://www.unitedwildlife.com/AnimalsSwallows.html#kMud, cliff and barn swallows do carry diseases: including histoplasmosis, encephalitis, salmonella, cryptococcus, and toxoplasmosis. These swallow illnesses are spread by contact with swallow poop, nest materials and dead swallows.
Histoplasmosis is 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.
Toxoplasmosis is 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 bacteria salmonella. 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.
Encephalitis can 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.
Resources and Management Options
Cliff Swallow Management—UC Davis
Health and Safety Hazard
Sierra, Foothill Cliff Swallows