‘Don’t feed the birds’ Canberra’s war on bird poo

About 10 years ago I was in Canberra and got attacked by a bird.

magpie.bicycle.helmetThis is common in Australia, especially in spring. You’ll often see cyclists with pointy things out of their helmets to deter attacks, which may be as effective as tar under the eyes to reflect sunlight (I’m looking at you, Tom Brady).

In 2011 I was attacked by a magpie and punched it in the face (beak).

A tongue-in-cheek video made by the ACT Government and posted to Facebook has already garnered thousands of views.

The video came with a serious message even though it was shot and edited like an Alfred Hitchcock thriller.

tom.brady“It can be really tempting to feed birds but just remember what goes in must come out,” Territory and Municipal Services’ Mal Gale said in the video.

“Human food, like bread, is bad for birds’ digestive systems. They begin to see humans as a food source, which can increase their numbers in urban areas significantly and the chance of disease spreading climbs.

“If you’ve ever been to Trafalgar Square you’ll know what we’re talking about.

“Let’s keep the bush capital beautiful.”

But of course, being government, they only shared it on facebook and I can’t embed it. Put it on youtube.

10 sickened: Multiple human-to-human transmission from a severe case of psittacosis, Sweden, January – February 2013

You see a cute bird, I see a microbiological horror show.

UnknownWallensten et al. describe in Eurosurveillance, Volume 19, Issue 42, that  proven transmission of Chlamydia psittaci between humans has been described on only one occasion previously.

We describe an outbreak which occurred in Sweden in early 2013, where the epidemiological and serological investigation suggests that one patient, severely ill with psittacosis after exposure to wild bird droppings, transmitted the disease to ten others: Two family members, one hospital roommate and seven hospital caregivers. Three cases also provided respiratory samples that could be analysed by PCR. All the obtained C. psittaci sequences were indistinguishable and clustered within genotype A.

The finding has implications for the management of severely ill patients with atypical pneumonia, because these patients may be more contagious than was previously thought. In order to prevent nosocomial person-to-person transmission of C. psittaci, stricter hygiene measures may need to be applied.

Harry Styles is reportedly using bird poop to treat his acne

Anyone who takes nutrition, vaccination, and acne advice from a celebrity is as idiotic as those giving the advice.

Harry Styles, the 20-year-old One Direction front man is prone to pimples.

bird.poop.acneAccording to the MailOnline, Harry has turned to bird excrement in a desperate attempt to clear up his acne before the band’s world tour.

So far so good. Hank has apparently been break- out free since he started the feces facials.

It’s called the “Geisha facial,” because back in the day, Japanese Geishas used the waste to remove the thick white make-up they were expected to wear.

And now A-listers like Tom Cruise and Victoria Beckham are reportedly dropping over $200 a pop to have bird droppings smeared on to their faces.

Harry fears his acne prone skin will not be able to brave the heavy make-up and hot lights used on tour.

Tom Cruise, 51, has been a devotee for two years and 40 year-old Victoria Beckham began having the facials after a visit to Japan.

You may see an acne cure or a cute bird, I see a Salmonella factory.

The Zoonoses Diaries: Caught at Cat town

 Vet school doesn’t leave much time for extracurricular activities (especially during second year classes), but I try my best to stay relatively well rounded throughout these four years of academic boot camp. One of my favorite weekend activities is Cat town, a tailgating area near the football stadium here at K-State. (Doug talked about it yesterday)  Each home football game has a different Vet med-associated club volunteer to help serve food at Cat town, and yesterday’s game against Tennessee Tech was CVMF’s day (Christian Veterinary Medical Fellowship).  As a CVMF member, I helped to set up and serve lunch to the tailgaters. In typical vet student fashion, some brought their pets to the event. One of my classmates has two beautiful black-capped caiques that are always a big hit at Vet med events, and we had them strategically placed at the t-shirt selling booth to attract people to support the second year class.

Now to defend myself, when serving I wore my food-serving plastic gloves in aseptic fashion. I didn’t touch my face with my fingers or sneeze into my hands. I wish there would’ve been hand sanitizer available before I put my gloves on, because serving food hygienically involves a combination of good hand washing and regular glove changes.  We only had one server touching food directly (handing out burger buns) and everyone else used a utensil such as a spoon, knife or tongs to serve food along with gloves. During the slower parts of the afternoon, I would take breaks to chat with people and often drift over to see the birds, Monty and Apple (right). They are very charming little creatures, so I took full advantage of holding them and kissing them (glove-free).  

Lo and behold, who shows up to Cat town but my food-safety boss Doug Powell. He eyes my classmate and I suspiciously as we hold the birds on our fingers and give them kisses on the beak, all while enjoying burgers and cake (pretty much doing everything the CDC recommends avoiding).  Amy and Sorenne got an especially close look at the birds. In the background Doug said, “Keep that Salmonella factory away from my baby.” There’s the Doug I know, always thinking about the potential pathogens.

Later in the afternoon I chatted with my classmate about her food safety practices with the birds. She goes on to tell me that she frequently consumes food around her birds, and has never had any sickness in the past that could be related to the birds. While feeding the birds potatoes salad from her own fork, she tells me that she may have gotten Salmonella from them in the past, but she’s been around them so much that her body may have developed a tolerance to the bacterium. She has never has them tested to see if they carry Salmonella in their feces, though most birds do.

I’m thankful that my classmate has never had any sickness related to her birds, but that may not be the case for the rest of the nation. The young, elderly and other immunocompromised individuals are most likely to contract a zoonotic disease when handling pets. Practicing good food safety habits such as washing your hands thoroughly and cooking your meat to the proper temperature can help reduce the risk of food borne disease. Also, don’t kiss animals to allow them to lick your face, especially not in front of your boss.

Fecal facial latest skin treatment

The N.Y. Post reports that for just $216, Shizuka Bernstein will slather your face in feces for a full 50 minutes — what she calls the "Geisha Facial" — at her Midtown New York spa, Shizuka.

It’s bird poop.

The ancient Japanese cleanser – geishas and kabuki dancers have been using the bird poop to wash off their heavy white makeup since the 18th century – contains guanine, which supposedly removes pollutants and blackheads, and helps even out skin tone.

The exotic excrement comes in a powder form, directly from Japan, and is sterilized with UV light to kill bacteria.

Marilyn Phillips, a 58-yearold Upper West Sider who had a Geisha Facial late last week, said,

"I figure if poop was good for the soil, it’s good for your face. And it doesn’t smell at all. I’d say hair coloring smells way worse."

32-year-old massage therapist Andrea Nieto who went in for the facial last week, said,

"You wouldn’t even know it was nightingale droppings. And after, my skin was softer than it had been in a really long time. And it looked clearer to me, too. But you gotta wonder how they figured to use these things. Who put 2 and 2 together like that?"