Four Nasty Diseases and Viruses Spread by Starlings

At 15cm in height, starlings are tiny, seemingly innocent birds. But what they lack in size, they make up for in dangerous, and potentially fatal diseases.

They prefer any habitats where man-made structures give them ample nesting and roosting sites, making them a particular threat to humans.

Read on to find out what massive dangers are presented by such tiny birds!


Found inside the birds’ droppings, histoplasmosis infects humans when they breath in the spores of the fungus. Terrifyingly, the spores become airborne and spread during cleanups or demolition projects. Starling dropping-contaminated soil also transmits the disease.

The infection is most dangerous to infants because their immune systems aren’t full developed, so parents should take extra precaution around construction sites in the city.


Similar to its infectious cousin histoplasmosis, cyprotococcosis spreads through starling droppings. It’s caused by yeast found in the filth-with-wings’ intestinal tract, beginning as a pulmonary (obstructive lung) disease, then spreading to the central nervous system.

Be wary of attics, cupolas, ledges, schools, offices, warehouses, mills, barns, park buildings, and signs, as these typical roosting sites are as much home to the fungus as they are to the starling.

E. Coli and Salmonella

Anyone who’s been alive for the past 20 years knows the dangers presented by E. Coli, given the harrowing contamination of Walkerton in May 2000. Starlings can indirectly pass the dangerous disease onto humans by contaminating livestock.

Rural starlings roost on fences or ledges above livestock feedlots. Given the bird’s reckless defecation abandon, their droppings get into cattle feed. Ripe with E. coli and salmonella, droppings contaminate the feed and infect the cattle. These infected farm animals can be unwittingly slaughtered, and fed to humans.

West Nile Virus

Similar to E. Coli and Salmonella, West Nile isn’t transmitted directly by a starling, but a human can be infected by a mosquito infected by a starling.

What makes this virus different is that it is an ectoparasite, as well as an encephalitis- an inflammation of the brain. West Nile is usually mild, but can be fatal. Mild symptoms range from fever, rashes and body aches, but more severe symptoms could lead to comas and paralysis.

If there’s one thing these diseases spread by starlings make clear, is that we humans need to stay clear of the nuisance birds. Starlings are notoriously unhealthy, and if they’re infesting your home or business, it is imperative to have their feces professionally removed promptly!

Terminix Canada offers wildlife removal services such as environmentally friendly bird control. We simply relocate the birds, and offer bird proofing services to the infested area so you’re kept safe from potential diseases!

Contact us for a consultation!