Overview of the last month
Government ignore the warnings. That could be the title for the whole Covid-19 mess
During the last month, we have seen many changes. Government ignore the warnings and press on with easements on lockdown. Measures included permission to travel and meet in small groups. Some shielded persons may now venture outside. We anticipate re-opening on July 4th. Although this may change again, depending on UK.Gov restrictions.
Preparing to re-open
We have tentatively re-opened our booking diary from 4th July. Some PPE has been ordered and received (facemasks, gloves, gowns, bootees, sanitizer). We await guidelines SPECIFIC to small hotels, guesthouses and b&b’s. Meanwhile, we are trying to follow lengthy and detailed guidelines from UK Hospitality Association.
Government mired in controversy
We do not intend to dwell too much on the “Demonic” Cummings affair. His betrayal of the British People and arrogantly issued web of blatant lies must go down in History as something akin to Benedict Arnold, Judas Iscariot or maybe Pol Pot, before he took over completely. UK Government has lost respect and trust in supporting this treacherous weasel. (No insult intended to weasels!) Again, Government ignore the warnings. Maybe enough survivors will remain to vote out the incompetents who steered us into personal and financial tragedy on a mass scale.
The results may have been evident in the displays of thoughtless, careless and senseless crowds in the good weather of the following weekend. Basically, many folk started to believe the rules did not apply to them and we fervently hope a second wave is not the consequence.
Lack of trust in UK Government
Many questions remain, by NHS, Scientists, fellow MP’s and Head of UK Statistics, as to:
- Why “quarantine” visitors now instead of months ago?
- Should’nt “Test, track and trace” have started BEFORE the numbers grew?
- Abroad, trace methods include phone tracking, surveillance camera data, credit card data, etc – why not here?
- Are there “invalid” numbers of deaths – and test data for that matter?
- After seeing the examples set by South Korea, Vietnam, Australia and others, why did UK Government ignore the warnings and delay for over a month before taking (the wrong!) actions?
- Seeing Turkey take very prompt actions, including SENDING test personnel out to suspected victims AND providing results AND contact tracking data WITHIN 24 hours, why cannot the UK do that?
- Why did UK Government ignore the warnings about pandemics in the reports from 2007, 2011 and Cygnus Report of 2016 – all of which highlighted lack of preparedness, lack of PPE, lack of respirators and vulnerability in Care Homes? They commissioned and paid for these reports!
We try to avoid politics in our blogs but, in this case, many lives are at risk and a floppy-haired child of four could have done better (with a “trusted” Chief Aide, of course!) That is our opinion.
Quarantine for inbound travellers
Well, it’s not a quarantine is it? Quarantine is corralling suspected cases together, while track and trace goes on. Politely asking travellers to self-isolate for 14 days serves no purpose except to continue to cripple the Tourism industry. For reference, the Tourism Sector is the third largest in the UK. (Worth about £127Billion a year, or 8 times as much as TV, Radio and Films together!)
BAME – Groups at special risk from Covid-19
Along with elderly males and those with certain pre-existing conditions, BAME groups appear to be at greater risk from infection and severity. (BAME = Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic groups).
Worldwide data for Covid-19 deaths, as of 4th May 2020. Deaths per million Population
|Belgium 834||Philippines 9||Dominican Republic 49|
|UK 598||Pakistan 8||Honduras 24|
|Spain 581||Afghanistan 8||Algeria 16|
|Italy 556||Japan 7||South Africa 14|
|Sweden 446||Indonesia 6||Egypt 11|
|France 433||South Korea 5||Gabon 9|
|Netherlands 347||Bangladesh 5||Equitorial Guinea 9|
although things may change in future data sets.
China, where it all began, has a death rate of 3.3 while India has 4.5. Nations such as Nigeria, Chad, Congo, Cite d’Ivoire, Somalia (etc) are typically below 2.0 death rates so far. Despite highly effective and prompt measures to combat spread and track cases, Turkey has a death rate around 56. The higher susceptibility to infection and death seems to be local to European countries, as yet.
1. NOT “following the science”
WHO study finds 1 metre is adequate for social distancing. Blindly sticking to 2 metres threatens £137Billion hospitality sector AND 1million jobs.
2. “Doing the wrong thing at the wrong time”
Labour Shadow Home Secretary claims “only 273 people were quarantined during the pandemic period”. However 18 million travellers were allowed in. No wonder the disease spread so fast and killed so many people.
3. Top Italian scientists claim the virus is losing potency
If true, this would explain the fast peak in deaths, followed by a long slow decline in numbers. It also implies all the UK measures were a complete waste of time.
4. “Test, Track and Trace” not going to be useful
WHO studies have shown that asymptomatic cases are not as infectious as first thought. This means test, track and trace needs to focus on the 2 or so days when symptoms show. However, results MUST be much, much faster to be effective (10 minutes approx in many countries!) Also, the programme is at least 3 months too late. UK still does not have enough testing capacity either. (Government ignore the warnings!)
5. Lockdown may have been a waste of time
The UK lockdown was not effective, too late and has cost the economy over £300Billion (and counting!) By contrast, Sweden has had no lockdown and only about 1/8th as many deaths. However, the Swedish economy has hardly been impacted. Unlike ours.
6. Nightingale Hospitals – a white elephant?
NHS London Nightingale Hospital opened on 3rd April, over 2 months after the first Covid-19 case in the UK. As of 4th May it stands empty. Five of the other 6 such hospitals are now open. Meanwhile, in China, the 1000-bed Huoshenshan Hospital opened in Hubei Province on 1st February. It took just 10 days to build and is totally “state-of-the-art”. Nurses can mostly tend patients remotely, minimising carer exposure. The 1600-bed Leishenshan Hospital opened on 8th February. (Engineering and Technology, March 2020, 92-93). Even the Gaza Strip has a large field hospital for Covid-19 patients.
Home truths and easing lockdown
It looks like the “tail” of the pandemic plan and easing lockdown is going to be a long. drawn-out affair. We have switched to less frequent blog updates. This update covers a fortnight. The next will cover a month. Meanwhile, we are all hoping for a return to summery scenes before too long.
Self isolating and staying at home
At home, we are still self-isolating as much as possible, collective shopping and waving to neighbours from a safe distance. About once a fortnight, we take waste plastic bottles and cans to the recycling bins about 300 yards away. This is simply to prevent blocking of our fire exit. The neighbourhood online quizzes have stopped briefly, while we pause to think of new tricky questions.
Recovery – easing lockdown
We are also pondering the weekend (week 7) announcements about slight easing of lockdown, with a degree of trepidation. Uncertainty remains about exactly how our business would cope with working under the present pandemic plan. We have re-opened bookings for January 2021 but will probably not serve breakfasts. This would be to protect guests via maintained social distancing.
Problems facing the Tourism Industry
There is an excellent and rather comprehensive article online in “The House”, which outlines current problems facing the hospitality industry. At risk is the £127 Billion-a-year UK Tourism industry and the livelihoods of 3,1 million workers in 300,000 businesses. These figures include 8% of the Nation’s workforce and the third largest industry sector in Britain.
The article suggests the impact of the Covid-19 emergency and lockdown is equivalent to three consecutive winter seasons. Certainly, in our case, we lose an average of £3,000 – £4000 per month in winter because of fixed costs. It takes us till mid-July to start to break even – and that is not going to be possible this year. Many colleague businesses are in far worse shape than us.
Gaps in Government help for Tourism businesses
The report goes on to highlight dependent businesses, such as Tourism Travel companies and booking agents. Such groups do not receive any Government support presently. Further, the many suppliers, delivery drivers, repair firms and specialist infrastructure firms are also at financial risk and facing very uncertain futures. The Tourism landscape is going to be pretty bleak for a long time after Covid-19 has been and gone.
(Below is a quasi-political section which readers can skip if they wish – at least it’s not our usual “science-y” section! It includes a brief description that shows British planning was years ahead of other Nations. BUT our complacency and austerity tripped us up when action was actually needed.)
Gradual easing of lock down soon?
Some of the statements in Thursday’s Government Briefing suggested that the process of untangling lock down may be starting soon. Next week, the Cabinet advised by SAGE (Science Advisory Group) and NHS, will be looking at the potential for easing restrictions in some situations. Of course, actual easing is still weeks or months away, but a plan is being considered.
In our specific case, we would need several weeks notice. We would need to finish maintenance and repairs, re-hire cleaner(s), deep clean and re-stock. Most of our existing stock has gone out-of-date and would need disposing. All the bedding in all rooms would need stripping, laundry and replacing. Most difficult, we would need to re-establish our presence online, publish availability and try to get customers again. Our review scores and listing rank have been dropping steadily throughout the crisis.
Rainy day Tuesday
We have seen much drama during the covid-19 lock down but the effect of a little rain on Tuesday was spectacular. Suddenly, there were no cyclists, no joggers, no kids on the beach and only the regular dog walkers. Meanwhile, the Pavilion carpark contained vans instead of the usual cars. It was like flicking a switch from “normal Weymouth” to “Gobi Desert” – only with rain. We imagined hundreds of dogs in lock down, crossing their legs and whimpering to go out. We hope the general public has not been confusing the “sunshine” vitamin D with immunity.
UPDATE: It was raining again on Wednesday. We saw two dog walkers, one lady jogger and a walker. Traffic was a little less absent. The sun came out in the afternoon, along with kids on the beach, dog walkers and cyclists on The Esplanade. Nice to see the place looking more normal again.
JUST SEEN: Wednesday Morning: Boris Johnson and Carrie Symonds have had a baby boy this morning. It is great to have some good news among all the gloom.
Sunniest April since the 1800’s
For a decade or so, locally we have needed a prolonged spell of sunshine in Spring to kick start the season. We finally get the good weather and look what we got with it! Alanis Morissette and “Ironic”.
Meanwhile, at home we remain self isolating
We are still self-isolating at home. The Missus makes the occasional shopping trip, including a couple of neighbours’ requirements. Meanwhile, about once a week, I make the short trip to the bottlebank 300 yards away to get rid of cans and bottles. The rest of the rubbish cannot be dealt with currently, since we have no collection and the Tip is closed. The Missus is baking fruit pies and the neighbours are baking cakes. Nobody is starving!
Social Distancing – some observations
We are not ONS or National Census but we have noticed a few changes resulting from social distancing and lock down. We overlook both the Beach and the Harbour so see everyone out and about during the day. It is nice to see folk enjoying the marvellous sunny weather, exercising and keeping well apart from each other. However, there may be increased accidents as cyclists fail to negotiate the old railway tracks along the Harbourside.
- Roughly 5 times as many cyclists
- About 3 times as many joggers
- A few more gull and crow feeders on the beach
- Similar numbers of rough sleepers and “drinkers”
- Initially, twice as many pensioners, now normal numbers
- Fewer families and groups
Weymouth- business almost as usual
It is quite encouraging to see life in Weymouth carrying on unperturbed, despite self-isolating. People are still able to walk on the Beach, exercise their dogs and make short journeys for essential purposes. Of course, the pubs and restaurants are suffering badly from abruption of cash flow, as are guesthouses, hairdressers, nail salons, cafes, etc. Most have had to spend many £1000’s to prepare for the season and now find there is no income on which to survive till Winter. Nationally, we have seen a number of major restaurant chains collapse into administration, along with high street shopping outlets.
Even worse, the Fishing Charter captains are finding they still need to pay mooring fees, insurance, fuel and maintenance costs with no Government or insurance payout to help. (#Unsurance !) At least the commercial fishing fleet can still continue, to supply Weymouth with top quality fresh seafood daily. We are among many guesthouses facing expensive cancellations by groups of fishermen but at least most of us can claim the small business rate relief payment.
Making a Vaccine – the Global effort
According to ABC News from last month, there are 6 leading contenders for vaccine development, with varying timescales for implementation.
- mRNA-1273 – Moderna Therapautics, codes for “spike” proteins, skipped straight to human trials, Phase 1 safety trials expected to end June 2021
- Ad5-nCoV – Beijing Institute, viral vector (carrier) method, Human testing underway in Phase 1, hoping to be as successful as similar Ebola Vaccine, already in Phase 2, safety testing December 2020
- ChAdOx1 – Oxford University, simultaneous Phase 1/2 testing underway, inactivated carrier vector virus from Chimpanzees, said to be closer to human genome, prognosis May 2021
- BNT162 – Pfizer/BioNTech, mRNA type, Pre-clinical trials, similar to Flu vaccine, human trials start in USA/Germany this month.
- INO-4800 – Inovio Pharmaceuticals, “Cellectra” device injects DNA coding immuno-generative proteins. Earlier work on similar MERS and HPV vaccines well advanced. Human trials start this month.
- Sanofi Recombinant DNA – Engineered DNA, similar to SARS vaccine work. Successes with Flublock and Fluzone vaccines for flu. Human trials may start this month.
- Around 40 drug treatments are being investigated Worldwide but with no promising candidates as of March 31st.
South West UK has been lucky so far
Beautiful weather over the Easter weekend but most people stayed home
The weather was beautiful over the Easter Weekend but most people stayed home. The Beach and Harbour were almost deserted at a time when they would normally overflow with visitors. On Easter Monday we could see only two fishing vessels from our viewpoint overlooking the middle Harbour. A number of photographers were out-and-about taking images of empty streets and the Beach.
Last Easter weekend weather
Last Easter, the weekend weather was the hottest on record. Our reward from a couple of guests was a complaint it was too hot (they left the radiator on, mind you!) Apparently it was equally warm in 1949 but this year, though very sunny, was not quite so hot. We have a couple of photographs from last year for you.
Historically, most Easter weather has been mainly dry but plagued with cold winds. Bad weekends include 1958, 1964, 1966, mid-90’s and 2013.
This week’s scienc-ey stuff
We repeat, we are not experts but are just listing a few interesting references from people who are. We hope we can distract folk away from all the fake news out there (e.g. 5G masts!) Note that the bottom item (China Global Television News website) often refreshes URL links so that item may disappear soon. Later in the week, the weather broke, leading to showers and cloudy spells. However, Weymouth Esplanade, Beach and Harbour remained quiet, with just the occasional person exercising or walking their dogs.
- Human Coronavirus types
- Bats may act as reservoirs for Coronavirus which can mutate and infect humans
- Coronavirus infection map
- Birds can transmit over 60 diseases to humans
- Crows can spread Mad Cow Disease
- Possible early development of a vaccine
UK Government and NHS are hopeful we may be seeing the flattening of the curves for infection.
Some good news
At the end of week 3 of Covid-19 Lock Down, we are all hoping for some good news on the horizon. Last night’s briefing from 10 Downing Street appeared to offer a small ray of hope. It appears possible the rate of infections, intensive care occupancy and deaths might be starting to plateau. Of course, nobody can be certain yet but it is something to hope for. (Sadly, UK deaths rose by nearly 2,000 in the 48 hours since this draft).
We can still enjoy the Beach and Harbour here in Weymouth, mostly from behind windows. The fishing fleet and fish market are still operating for essential food supplies. We hope everyone will stay safe and soon be able to move freely again and get out in the fresh air, to enjoy the sights first hand. Meanwhile, at the end of week 3, we are minimizing shopping, staying home and trying to keep our friends safe and cheerful. (Not sure my tricky quizzes are really helping!) We noticed fewer over-70’s outside and most folk are being much more sensible over non-essential outings.
Hope on the horizon – end of week 3
- The Government small business grants are starting to be paid
- Councils, banks and utilities are starting to help
- University of Pittsburgh is one of many groups working on possible vaccines. They claim initial success although safety trials may take many months.
- There is some evidence that increased testing coupled with contact tracking can improve the effectiveness of lock down measures (see data for South Korea, China and Germany in latest UK GOV briefings)
Some less good news
At the end of week 3 of the Covid-19 lock down, we are still worried in some areas. Scientific reports give some cause for concern while trolls and conspiracy theorists are having a field day. We are trying to weed out the real news from the fake.
- Dorset Echo reports 10,000 elderly people in Dorset are at increased risk from Covid-19
- It is also reported there is anger at people travelling to second homes in Dorset maybe bringing the virus with them from London and other major infection centres.
- There are still up to 30% over-70’s walking around against NHS advice to self-isolate
- Everyone is touching every hard surface outside with carefree abandon, despite clear advice the virus can live up to 4 days on hard surfaces
- There has been an unwelcome crop of conspiracy nuts, vandals, online trolls and plain criminals, “rejoicing” in the emergency
- Insurance companies are mostly refusing to pay out on business interruption policies, despite allegedly being paid themselves via reinsurance policies they hold.
- Some scientific research suggests the virus has actually transferred from hard surfaces, people who show no symptoms and animals and possibly insects they have been in contact with.
- A possibly unscientific source (Surfer Magazine) claims coastal breezes may carry the Covid-19 virus far further than 6 feet. The article quotes a “Virus expert” likening airborne range of virus particles to that of cigarette smoke particles. (Note: NOT validated by UK Gov, NHS or CDC (etc) as yet).
During this Covid-19 lock down, end of week 2, we thought we might show something to hope for next year.
At a time when the death toll is rising, especially for older people, we are seeing more people out and about, including many older people
Week 2 – staying in Covid-19 lock down
We are now in week 2 of our Covid-19 total lock down. As previously, we are staying indoors, getting minimum shopping delivered minimum times and between 3 households, to minimise delivery drivers’ exposure. Our elderly in-laws have been self-isolating completely for three weeks. We are also keeping spirits up by exchanging quiz questions among ourselves, to keep our brains active.
At Aaran House, we expect to make a 100 yard walk to bottlebanks to remove bottles and cans, next week. Otherwise, the build-up of waste would start to block our fire escape. Food waste collection was on friday but we do not know how long these kerbside collections will continue. We do not go outside our door at all otherwise, ever.
We are seeing quite a few more elderly people walking around and along the Beach and Esplanade than normal at this time of year. Surely, this is risky behaviour. We have seen individuals outside more than once per day as well as making non-essential trips, to feed “the fattest crows in England” and to go Paddle-Boarding, for example. We understand Police have spoken to one individual feeding crows every day, several times over a decade and there have been a number of more recent 101 complaints made against him by tormented and frustrated residents.
We note a number of drivers bringing children, dogs etc to the Beach. We have seen a family-meet between a driver with small children and another adult for an outing on the Beach. An ambulance worker has been trying to tell people to go back indoors but not with any great success. Don’t get us wrong: It is lovely to see people out in the sunshine BUT we are worried for everyone’s health – and our own.
We would like to note, there is very little to worry about in terms of dogs (or cats) spreading Covid-19. Very few possible cases have been reported Worldwide and no risks of transmission to humans have been identified.
The Police have been trying to reduce numbers of non-essential outings by people but have come in for a deal of “Police-bashing”. This includes from one of Britain’s largest landowners, a Dorset MP. In a local press statement, he appears to accuse people of acting like “Communist Stasi Informers” or “Nazi sympathisers” for trying to help Police control non-essential journeys. He would know, living close to another large landowner estate where they actually had Nazi Sympathisers up to the Second World War.
Meanwhile, living on a private estate of about 13,000 acres is a bit different from living in a street, with people walking past the front door, all day and night. Similarly, people trying to pass on advice from UK Gov, NHS, PHE, CDC, WHO, among others, are NOT “hysterical, judgemental, random and uneducated” as some online trolls are asserting. Not helping, guys!
For orientation, The MP mentioned has voted against – climate change, equality, human rights, same sex marriage, proportional representation, smoking ban, higher taxes for rich, tax on bankers bonuses – BUT – voted for lower welfare benefits, ending financial educational support for teenagers and the “bedroom tax” Maybe we should avoid “Non-essential Politicians”?
Just when you thought things could not get worse, you read a couple of articles from some years back. These assert wind-borne dust and sandstorms, can spread diseases, including some forms of Coronavirus and the viruses can survive for different “lifetimes” on different surfaces and in aerosols. We note there are significant deposits of beach sand on our INSIDE windowsills. This is despite the windows being firmly closed, right up to the top floor, about 60 feet high. We spray and wipe everything, everywhere as often as we can. (Probably not a hazard but it keeps us active).
We do not want to panic people but apart from Covid-19, there have always been some risks associated with feeding wild birds. We love birds and animals and the risks are very low, but…..
Information from CDC on diseases from birds
The below article is copied in its entirety by kind permission from Bird-X.com . It lists the transmissable diseases that may put humans at risk when feeding wild birds. The USAID/PREDICT programme suggested there may up to 600,000 unidentified animal-to-human epidemic risks and disease types from viruses.
HUMANS CAN CATCH DISEASE AND PARASITES FROM INFECTED PEST ANIMALS
A Zoonotic Disease is a disease that may be passed between animals and humans. This most commonly occurs between birds, rodents, and other pest animals. Below is information from CDC including a partial list of such zoonotic diseases, illustrating part of the reason it’s so important to keep pest animals away from humans.
Birds and Their Droppings Can Carry Over 60 Transmissible Diseases
Bird infestations can prove more of a hazard than most people realize, as many carry more than 60 transmissible diseases* – this list continues to grow and is not exhaustive of all possible risks posed by pest animals.
Allergic Alveolitus occurs when humans inhale particles of bird dander in the air. Also known as “Pigeon Lung Disease,” this affects the alveoli if the lungs, decreasing the lungs’ ability to function & making it difficult to breathe.
Avian Influenza, also known as “The Bird Flu” is the H5N1 virus which is transmitted through the fecal matter of infected birds. This serious disease is able to live in objects such as bird feeders, baths, and houses, as well as in birds themselves. This disease is well-known for being deadly in humans, causing more severe symptoms than typical flu viruses including high fever, cough, respiratory difficulties, and muscle aches.
Avian Tuberculosis is caused by inhaling microscopic organisms found in the feces of birds. Potentially fatal, this disease is difficult to treat and symptoms include weight loss, swollen stomach, diarrhea, and impaired breathing.
Campylobacteriosis causes gastrointestial distress, usually transmitted through food and water that’s been contaminated by bird fecal matter. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy.
Candidiasis is a yeast or fungus infection spread by pigeons. The disease affects the intestines, mouth, skin, urogenital tract, and the respiratory system.
Cryptococcosis is caused by yeast found in the intestinal tract of pigeons and starlings, usually passed by ingestion of infected fecal matter. This illness begins as a pulmonary disease & can advance to affect the central nervous system.
E.coli is generally spread via fecal contamination of food. Birds frequently peck on cow manure, which is one place where E.coli 0157:H7 originates. Infected birds are unaffected but spread the bacteria into food and water supplies.
Erysipeloid is passed by direct contact between humans and birds. Broken skin is affected, which changes from red to blue-red, and the infection can spread to joints.
Giardiasis is caused by an intestinal parasite Giardia found in contaminated food, causing diarrhea, weight loss, bloating, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.
Histoplasmosis or “Ohio River Valley Fever” is transmitted when humans inhale the Histoplasma capsulatum fungus that grows in dried bird and bat droppings. It is an extremely serious respiratory disease that can prove fatal, especially in those with compromised immune systems, including children.
Newcastle Disease (or “Avian Pneumoencephalitis“) is passed orally through food contaminated by infected bird fecal matter. The Newcastle disease virus causes flu-like symptoms, neurological dysfunction, seizures, conjunctivitis, and respiratory problems.
Pasteurellosis usually occurs when humans are bitten or scratched by birds infected by Pasteurella multocida organisms, though in some cases caused by inhalation via respiratory droplets. Scratches may become red and infected, while respiratory infection can result in bronchitis, pneumonia, or septicemia.
Psittacosis also known as “Parrot Fever,” “Ornithosis,” or “Chlamydiosis” occurs when the C.psittaci bacterium passes to humans via inhalation, contact, or ingestion. This potentially lethal disease causes flu-like symptoms in humans and can quickly escalate to pneumonia.
Q Fever is caused by Coxiella burnetii, a gram-negative pleomorphic bacillus that is passed in the feces of infected birds as well as other animals and ticks. Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, pneumonitis, and photophobia.
Salmonellosis can be traced to the droppings of pigeons, starlings and sparrows. Most often dried waste bacteria is sucked through contaminated air conditioners or vents, contaminating the food and cooking surfaces of restaurants, food processing plants, and homes.
Sarcocystis is a parasytic infection transmitted by birds as well as contaminated water (though this is not yet certain), and is also carried by rats. Symptoms in infected humans include nausea, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Usually only lasting 48 hours or less, this infection can be life-threatening, especially to the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.
St. Louis Encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes which have fed on pigeons, house sparrows and finches carrying the Group B virus. The nervous system becomes inflamed, usually causing fever, headache, & drowsiness. It can later result in coma, paralysis, or death. It is especially fatal to persons over age 60.
West Nile Virus (“West Nile Fever” or “West Nice Encephalitis“) is spread by mosquitos that have fed on infected wild birds. A potentially life-threatening infection that can cause weeks or months of illness.
Birds are Also Associated With Over 50 Kinds of Ectoparasites
Several bird ectoparasites** (a parasite that lives on the skin/exterior of a host) can easily transfer to humans, including:
Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are often found on pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows. Bed bugs draw blood from hosts including humans, and can consume up to 5 times their weight in blood. Infestations are common, especially in cities.
Chicken mites (Dermanyssus gallinae) are known carriers of encephalitis and may also cause fowl mite dermatitis & acariasis. Chicken mites primarily feed on the blood of birds, but will often bite humans. They are commonly found on pigeons, starlings, and house sparrows.
Fleas (Ceratophyllus gallinae & Dasypsyllus gallinulae; “the bird flea”) spend little time on bird hosts, but often infest nests and can easily transfer onto pets or humans. Bird fleas are a concen in hen houses and battery cages, and are known to rapidly reproduce in bird nests.
Fungi grows on decomposing skin (cellulose) & feathers (keratinophilic) of birds themselves, shielded in the plumage barrier. Fungi also grows on bird nests and in bird droppings, and are associated with many of the inhalation-contracted diseases noted above.
Ticks which bite/embed themselves onto humans, including larvae, nymphs and adults. Ticks can transfer onto surfaces via bird feeders or wherever birds land. Deer ticks notably carry and transmit Lyme Disease, as well as other diseases humans can contract.
Lice of all kinds enjoy the barrier feathers create, some feeding on the feathers themselves. A variety of such lice also enjoy human skin and hair.
Yellow mealworms are likely the most common beetle parasites of people in the United States, often infesting homes and biting humans in their larval form. These pests commonly live in pigeon nests and chicken coops, but their eggs may be passed on by carrier birds. These larvae often seek out human food sources, such as breakfast cereals, and if ingested may cause symptoms including intestinal canthariasis and hymenolespiasis.
Birds Nests Provide Homes to Insects
In addition to diseases and ectoparasites, nests provide ideal shelter for many insects, including but not limited to:
Booklice (or Psocids) are wingless and very tiny bugs that feed on fungi within bird nests. Booklice do not bite or transmit disease, but can be annoying in large numbers.
Carpet Beetles, also known as Skin Beetles, Dermestidae Beetles, Larder Beetles, Hide Beetles, Leather Beetles, and Khapra Beetles, are often found inside homes. There are around 500-700 species worldwide. These beetles commonly breed inside bird nests, feeding on dry animal matter, fungus, feathers, dried insects & natural fibers, including clothing.
Cloth Moths (Tineola bisselliella) also known as common cloth moths, webbing cloths moth, or clothing moth, these pests often breed inside bird nests. When infesting a home, they feed on clothing & natural fibers, especially wool and silk. Common closet pests, these moths are highly undesirable.
Spider Beetles (Mezium americanum, Ptinus fur, & Gibbium aequinoctiale) are small beetles that resemble spiders or ticks, commonly found in bird nests. Spider beetles feed off bird droppings and are most commonly found in homes when feeding on grain in pantries or sources in attics. In large numbers they can become very difficult to get rid of; the most successful management method is to get rid of the food source – sometimes unseen, such as a bird or rodent nest located on/inside the building structure.
Further information from CDC
Rodents & Bats Carry A Variety of Transmissible Diseases
Campylobacter causes gastrointestial distress, usually transmitted through food and water that’s been contaminated by bird fecal matter. Symptoms include diarrhea, weight loss, and lethargy.
Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS) is a serious respiratory disease, caught by humans from infected rodents. If left unchecked, the pulmonary illness can rapidly prove fatal. Rodent infestation inside and outside a home is the most common cause of hantavirus exposure. Healthy humans as well as those with compromised immune systems are at risk. It is not normally transmitted person to person, but rather rodent to person. Common carriers of the hantavirus include the deer mouse, white-footed mouse, rice rat, and cotton rat.
Leptospirosis can be easily transmitted through inhalation or contact with infect animals’ tissue or urine via broken skin and mucous membranes. The disease mimics flu-like symptoms but can also lead to kidney failure, pulminary problems, and encephalitis.
Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus infects humans via wild mice, by inhalation or direct contact with tissues or fluids from infected animals. Symptoms include fever, headache, myalgia, and malaise, and can escalate to meninoencephalitis, lymphadeopathy, and affect the neurological system.
Rabies are commonly carried by bats and other warm-blooded mammals such as raccoons, skunks, and foxes. Rabies is a viral disease that causes inflammation in the brain and can prove fatal – it is an extremely serious and contageous disease that requires immediate medical attention.
Rat-Bite Fever is generally spread to humans through rodent bites, symptoms include flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, headache, and muscle pain, as well as a rash, abscesses, pneumonia, painful joints, and more serious conditions.
Rodentolepsis occurs when the tapeworm Rodentolepsis nana is ingested as eggs by humans, generally due to exposure with rodent waste. Symptoms include abdominal pain, enteritis, headache, and decreased appetite. Carriers of the tapeworm can also include cockroaches, beetles, and fleas.
Salmonellosis can be traced to the droppings of pigeons, starlings and sparrows. Most often dried waste bacteria is sucked through contaminated air conditioners or vents, contaminating the food & cooking surfaces of restaurants, food processing plants, and homes.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a lung disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis which typically attacks the lungs, but can attack any part of the body including the spine, kidneys, and brain. TB can prove fatal if not treated, and was one of the leading causes of death in the United States.
* “Birds And Their Droppings Can Carry Over 60 Diseases.” Medical News Today. January 25, 2007. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/61646.php
** Clayton, Dale H. et al. “How Birds Combat Ectoparasites” The Open Ornithology Journal, 2010, 3, 41-71. http://darwin.biology.utah.edu/pubshtml/PDF-Files/Bush24.pdf
Disease information has been collected via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website: http://www.cdc.gov/
Once again, many thanks to Bird-X.com for permitting this copy of information from CDC in their web page to be shown here. We hope people can continue to enjoy bird feeding but be better informed and carry on in safety. Always wash your hands and take extra precautions during the Covid-19 outbreak.
A weekly blog which we hope might include some useful information
Covid-19 Lock down – week one
It goes against human nature to avoid people, meet their pets and perhaps feed the birds. Maybe go for walks and enjoy the great outdoors. As a result, this first week has gone down very hard for all of us. We try to imagine the Covid-19 emergency lock down as something like a nuclear holocaust film and behave accordingly, for everybody’s safety.
- Every second spent outside is a risk
- Any thing you touch might be contaminated
- Wild creatures you approach might be contaminated
- You must wash down and wipe everything that comes into your house, including your hands!
Shopping and social distancing
Thanks to having some really lovely neighbours, we have been able to minimise shopping trips during the Covid-19 lock down. Clubbing together for MINIMUM shopping orders helps, delivered by SAFE delivery options. There has been some unfamiliar stuff, as well as stock meant for guests, to avoid wasting it if it goes out of date. (eg. milk, eggs, bacon, sausage, cereals, cheese etc). People on diets may find they have to compromise in these circumstances. Not everything is available and collective group shopping means you may have to sacrifice some items so others can have a turn, especially vulnerable groups.
Useful Links and References
- https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/bird-flu/ (yes, I know it’s bird flu not Covid-19 – it’s just for comparison)
- https://www.bbc.co.uk/safety/resources/safetynews/whatsnew/Coronavirus (useful, clear posters for your premises available free from BBC)
(Many sources of information out there – we shall try to look out for them. We shall also try to correct anything in these blogs that turns out to be wrong)