Hyderabad: Veterinary parasitologists now believe there needs to be a mechanism in place for surveillance on pigeons in the city to determine what kind of microbes they are carrying.
A study by researchers from the Department of Veterinary Parasitology at the Government College of Veterinary Science, at Rajendranagar in the city, found that at least 25 per cent of the pigeon population in the city were infected with parasites. Parasites are divided into internal and external parasites. Internal parasites are those that dwell inside their host and are further divided into helminths (macro) and protozoan (micro) parasites.
In the study in Hyderabad, which was led by Dr G.S. Sreenivasamurthy from the College of Veterinary Science, 370 fresh samples of pigeon droppings were collected from in and around Hyderabad. Of these, 121 were found to be infected with protozoan infections. Protozoans usually reside in blood and rupture red blood cells, leading to death of the infected bird.
And from the 370 samples, 90 tested positive for helminthic infections. Helminths, the macro-parasites are further categorised into cestodes (tape worms) and nematodes (flat worms). Several samples were also found to be infected with tapeworms. The worms feed and grow inside the bird's body and can cause death.
“Our research concludes that overall incidence of helminthic infection in pigeons is high and their migratory behavior is to blame. A better understanding of their role in the disease epidemiology has to be gained by using tracking strategies,” said Dr Sreenivasamurthy.
However, humans need not worry. Dr Sreenivasamurthy says the parasites Raillietina, Davainea, Eimeria oocyst, Capillaria and Ascaridia, which were found in the pigeon droppings do not affect humans. But they can cause deaths in other birds, including poultry....