Birds may seem totally harmless to an unsuspecting property owner, employer or healthcare worker, but in addition to the mess that they cause and the potential spread of airborne disease, their presence could signal an infestation of a different, more dangerous kind.
Bird mites are tiny parasitic insects that are found where birds (such as pigeons, starlings, sparrows and poultry) and their nests are located. These barely visible pests typically feed on the blood of these birds, however, in the first few weeks after birds leave their nests, bird mites may infest homes and buildings in search of blood-meal from humans.
Once a bird mite infestation occurs, they can be very difficult to eradicate and can result in drastic, costly measures. For example, in New Zealand, a ward at Waikato Hospital had to be closed for fumigation and clinical cleaning as a result of a mite infestation. In another story, a woman was quarantined in New York after emergency workers came to her home and found her skin crawling with bird mites, causing chest pains. In both cases, nests of wild birds were found on the roof near a vent or air conditioning unit connected to the inside of the building.
What you need to know about Bird Mites
- Bird mites are generally associated with moist or humid conditions and are most active during spring and early summer.
- Humans can be exposed to bird mites when young birds leave their nests and the mite is left without a suitable host to feed from.
- They may move into living spaces in houses, climbing on walls, ceilings and bedding in search of a blood meal.
- Bird mites will feed on humans but do not live on humans as they cannot complete their life cycle on humans. Therefore, infestations are generally self-limiting if birds and nesting have been eradicated.
- Bites from bird mites can cause irritation including itching, swelling and reddish spots on the skin caused by mites when feeding.
- Bites are not associated with transmission of any infectious disease.
A severe infestation will require professional pest control services. If you suspect you have a bird mite infestation, click here to find a Pest Control Specialists branch near you.
Prevention & Control: Bird Proofing
The best way to ensure that you aren’t affected by a bird mite infestation is to prevent birds from occupying your property. The implementation of effective bird proofing measures can help you to avoid the costly damage that can be caused by uncontrolled pest bird activity in your area.
The Specialists offers a number of humane bird proofing solutions to eradicate nuisance birds from your building, as well as the threat of bird mites. These include: netting, metal wire, bristle-like spikes and liquid repellent.
- SA Health, Bird Mites – prevention and treatment
- Mite infestation closes ward at Waikato Hospital
- ABC News, Woman Quarantined with Bird Mites