Canada Geese New Jersey

www.canadageesenewjersey.com

 

 

DO CANADA GEESE POSE A HEALTH RISK?

 

All animals, human and non-human alike, have the “potential” for spreading disease but unless infected, there is no disease to spread. Geese are a product of their environment, not the other way around. Geese do not pose a significant health risk as evidenced by the fact the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have no record of a human illness outbreak definitively linked to goose feces.

 

The following quotes from professionals in the field serve to separate fact from fiction.

 

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Rochester, NY – MPNnow - Hilary Smith, staff writer - Daily Messenger - Mar 28, 2008

 

Those droppings have the potential, though minimal, to cause disease. Wasilco said there have been “limited cases” where goose droppings were found to carry high levels of E. coli, but that “it is generally not a form of the bacteria that is harmful to humans.”

 

Mike Wasilco is the regional wildlife manager for Region 8 of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

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Re: Salmonella

Article - New Zealand – February 12, 2008

 

“Another Huntly farmer claimed he lost 38 cows to salmonella contracted from goose droppings in 2006, but Auckland/Waikato Fish and Game chief executive Doug Emmett said in January the water fowl were not effective carriers of the disease and there was no proof linking stock deaths to the geese.

 

 

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Springfield News Sun (Ohio)  January, 2008

 

“Though Lokai said there are always possibilities of migratory birds carrying diseases, Champaign County Health Commissioner Shelia Hiddleson said proper sanitation should curb problems.” 

 

“Making sure children wash their hands and pets’ paws are washed after walks will  eliminate the bacteria or viruses they could have picked up, she said.”

 

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Article by Mike Cronin – Tribune Review – June, 2007 – Pittsburg

“Droppings merely lying on the ground don't pose a health threat to humans, according to officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Allegheny County Health Department.”

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Article – North Jersey Media Group – Pompton Lakes, NJ - May 8, 2007 – Barbara Williams, Staff writer

 

“Health experts say it is unlikely the droppings alone will cause skin infections. Health Officer Ken Hawkswell said he knows of no studies showing transferable diseases from geese to humans”.

 

“Dr. Julie Piwoz, chief of pediatric infectious diseases at Hackensack University Medical Center, said most skin infections are either from staph or strep bacteria, which normally reside on the skin and seldom cause problems. But if there is a break in the skin or you have eczema, you can get an infection in the lower layers of the skin, Piwoz said. I haven’t heard of goose feces causing an infection, but if you are playing in an area that you know is infested, you should always wash out the wound with soap and water. Of course, that’s true whenever you get a cut. Dirt contains a lot of stuff.”

 

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Article – Connecticut Westport News – March, 2007

 

Westport Weston Health District Wildlife Symposium

 

“When the symposium turned its attention to Canada geese, Min Huang, a migratory game bird biologist at the state Department of Environmental Protection, said that the problem with the geese population was primarily one of human perception and attitude, rather than an ecological or health issue.”

 

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Article – reporter Rex Springston – Times-Dispatch – October 19, 2006

 

“Canada goose droppings can contain germs such as salmonella. But Julia Murphy,

Virginia Department of Health’s public-health veterinarian said there is no reason to believe geese pose any more of a health risk than other wildlife, or even cats and dogs.”

 

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Article - reporter Duncan Moore – Bloomberg.com – March 23, 2006

 

“The Illinois Department of Public Health says that while the presence of the waste isn’t a health risk, park visitors should avoid contact with droppings.”

 

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The Enterprise – March 12, 2006

 

H. Heusmann, a waterfowl biologist with Massachusetts Fish and Wildlife, said the geese are more of a nuisance than a problem. According to several major studies, goose fecal matter poses very low health risks to humans because, “they don’t carry many of the bacteria that make humans sick,” he said.

 

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Clemmons Journal – Nov. 24.2005

 

“Brad Deen, a spokesman for the N.C. Wildlife Resource Commission, said that geese are not known to pose a serious health hazard.”

 

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Greenwich Time – May 8, 2005

 

“Goose droppings actually pose no risk of infection, said Tome Baptist, executive director of Audubon Connecticut.  No Scientific study has ever linked goose droppings with infection in human beings, Baptist said.”

 

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Springfield Echo Leader – by Kirsten Matthew – April, 2000

 

Dr. Douglas Roscoe, Fish and Wildlife Health and Forensics Supervisor at the New Jersey Department of Fish, Game and Wildlife

 

Giardia and cryptosporidium are fairly widespread in the water and in the birds. The protozoans are better known for their contamination of streams by cattle. Because the geese drink water, they contract the organism, which lives inside their intestinal tract.

 

At this time, the epidemiological evidence does not show there is a health hazard from the feral [sic] material, Roscoe said.

 

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Dr. Chris Karp

Professor of Infectious Diseases

Johns Hopkins School of Medicine

 

"I wouldn't think it is a significant health threat -- Giardia is a fairly common contaminant and Canada geese are but one of the vectors of transmission -- just another reason not to drink contaminated water."  (March 22, 1999)

 

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Christopher W. Olsen, DVM, Ph.D.

Professor of Public Health

School of Veterinary Medicine

University of Wisconsin-Madison

 

"While geese may be either mechanical disseminators or actual carriers of these organisms, the level of risk that they pose remains to be determined. In addition, particularly in the case of Giardia, research suggests that some strains of the organism may be restricted to animals and distinct from strains that infect humans."

 

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Massachusetts-based U.S. Fish and Wildlife Biologist, George Hass

E Magazine, Nov-Dec 1996

 

“There’s the perception among the public and some health officials – though we have no evidence – that the concentration of birds, and the feathers and fecal material, could constitute a threat to human health.”

 

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Dr. Milton Friend

(Former Director)

Wildlife Research Center, Waterfowl Disease

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

 

"On occasion we have been wading in that stuff, dead birds up to our elbows.  There is not a single documented case of any of us coming down with any kind of a disease problem as a result of Canada geese.  We do not have a human health situation, not in the urban goose, not in the wild goose, not in the captive geese that we have also worked with. We do have a lot of diseases out there that can affect people; most of them come from different places and do not come from the Canada goose, and I'll leave you with that.

(Panel Presentation transcript - 1993)

 

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Dr. Timothy Ford**

Microbiology Dept. of Environmental Health

Harvard School of Public Health

 

"Numbers of Cryptosporidium oocysts associated with Canada geese and waterfowl in general are likely to be minimal, unimportant, relative to the potential for oocysts shed from other forms of wildlife and humans. In my mind, there is no possibility that the Canada goose will ever be a major route of infection. To suggest otherwise is utterly ludicrous, and you can quote me."

 

**Author of Microbiological Safety of Drinking Water: United States and Global Perspective (1999)

 

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David S. Adam

Coordinator Health Projects, Vector Control

Infectious and Zoonotic Diseases Program

State of New Jersey Department of Health

 

"Giardia lamblia, as well as Cryptosporidium, is most commonly transmitted to humans by person-to-person fecal-oral contamination or by water fecally contaminated by humans or other mammals. Infection is usually asymptomatic, with children infected more frequently than adults, often in the day care setting.

 

In summary, the role of Canada geese in the transmission of Cryptosporidium or Giardia to humans is not well established, but appears to be small compared with other modes of transmission.

 

A number of beach closings, including several in New Jersey, have been attributed to this cause [high fecal coliform counts attributed to Canada geese].  However, research on this subject (including some surveillance conducted in New Jersey) has usually found very low levels of pathogenic bacteria such as Samonella sp. in the feces of waterfowl not exposed to human sewage effluent."  (March 21, 1999)

 

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Management of the Canada goose in the Town of Greenwich, CT.

Conservation Commission, 1999

 

"Examination of goose droppings showed only expected bacteria in normal concentrations. To date, state pathologists know of no cases where human illness can be ascribed to goose droppings.

 

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Charles Easterberg**

University of Washington

 

"Water is the perfect medium for bacterial spread or viral spread.  I have not seen any data that links pathogens from geese to the point of affecting humans. If someone's open wound came into contact with goose feces, it would be highly unlikely for the wound to become infected as a result.

 

We have no documentation that anyone's ever had any health problems with the geese, ever. The possibility of geese spreading disease to other waterfowl in the future is more likely than human infection. (The Daily of the UW - April 20, 1998)

 

**Mr. Easterberg is a Sanitarian and Environmental professor at the UW

 

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The Northeastern Research Center for Wildlife Diseases

Pathology Department

University of Connecticut

 

 

Indeed, only a few diseases can be transmitted to humans from birds. Thus it appears that the primary concern is the unsightly and unpleasant concentrations of droppings rather than a health risk.

 

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USGS

National Wildlife Health Center

 

Report: Screening for potential human pathogens in fecal material deposited by resident Canada geese on areas of public utility.

 

"Low frequency of positive cultures indicates that risk of humans to disease through contact with Canada goose feces appeared to be minimal at the four sites in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia during the summer and early fall of 1999." (Work Unit: 315 - AIMS - 5003748 - SIS)

 

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In a November 22, 2002 article of the Chicago Tribune, Ms. Monica Tischler, Benedictine University researcher and Biology professor is quoted as saying, "the public appears safe for now".  Ms. Tischler's conclusion is based on The Microbiology of Goose Feces: Public Health Implications.

 

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Leslie MacNeill, Director

Department of Human Services

North Brunswick Township, NJ

 

"Their droppings, noise and territorialism may create problems for some residents, but neither the geese nor their droppings pose a risk to the public's health."

 

(9/11/2003 - Article: Geese running 'afowl' of local community by staff writer, Jennifer Kohlhepp)

 

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ETHICS

 

James A. Serpell, PhD

Assoc. Prof. of Humane Ethics & Animal Welfare

Director, Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society

Department of Clinical Studies, School of Veterinary Medicine

University of Pennsylvania

"Regarding the ethics of killing the geese at all, it depends on the reason(s) why they have decided it is necessary to kill the geese, and whether they have tried all other reasonable means of getting rid of them.  If the reasons are relatively trivial (e.g. poop on the golf course), and more humane methods of deterring the geese have not been attempted, then I would regard the slaughter as unnecessary and unethical."

 

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