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Can pigeon droppings lead to litigation?

One thing New York City has plenty of is pigeons. But the birds can be more than a nuisance — they can actually be a serious health hazards to residents.

There are three diseases that humans can contract from contact with pigeon droppings:

— Psittacosis – This rare bacterial disease is usually found in owners of parrots, but pigeons can carry it through their droppings. Fever, chills, malaise, rash and even pneumonia can develop.

— Cryptococcosis – This fungal disease is also transmitted through contact with pigeon droppings. Most people with healthy immune systems won’t get sick, but those with weakened immune systems are at risk.

— Histoplasmosis – This is another fungal infection found in the droppings of pigeons. Chest pain, fever and fatigue are common. Those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of developing it.

When unsanitary conditions develop from pigeon droppings accumulating on the exterior of residential or commercial properties, on sidewalks or window ledges, the property owners are responsible for maintaining their premises free of these unsanitary health hazards by cleaning up the mess. The City can take corrective action if a tenant calls 311 and gives the address of the property and the owner’s name.

While that might be a good way to get a recalcitrant property owner to step up and take care of their property as they are supposed to be doing, if you have been sickened, or are suffering from a worsened condition due to exposure to pigeon droppings on someone else’s property, it’s not enough. Those individuals may want to consider filing a premises liability lawsuit to recover their damages.

Source: nyc.gov, “Pigeon-Related Diseases,” accessed Aug. 12, 2016

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