Pigeons could be able to carry many pathogenic viruses, bacteria, fungi and protozoa for humans and animals without causing any diseases in themselves (Kobayashi et al.,2002; Haag-Wackernagel and Mochb, 2004; Tanaka et al.,2005; Adesiyun et al.,2008; Adesiyun and Downes, 2009). Domestic pigeons are one of the most important vehicle for spreading of zoonotic infections (Kobayashi et al.,2002). Although pigeon breeding for hobby purposes are popular worldwide, there are not many researches about their microflora in gastrointestinal system, feces and cloacae (Adesiyun et al.,2008). In this study, some gram-negative bacteria profiles were determined in domestic pigeons’ cloacae. One of the most common types of enteric pathogens is E. coli in humans and animals (Watt et al.,2003; Adesiyun and Downes, 2009). Studies in Europe and other parts Middle East have supported the findings of the present study in that it has also reported the existence of pathogenic strains in wild birds with E. coli and K. spp as the most dominant gram negative species. (Wallace et al., 1997; Kullas et al., 2002, Wani et al., 2004; Hubálek, 2004; Sonntag et al., 2005; Ejidokun et al., 2006; Foster et al., 2006).
In the present study, it was found out that a total of 30 isolates of E. coli and Klebsilla spp. were obtained, 25 (86.67%) of which were E. coli while 5 (13.33%) were Klebsiella species. The results of Catalase, MR and indole test of the E. coli isolates from pigeon were positive but V-P test was negative which are in agreement with the reports of Buxton and Fraser (2007) and Honda et al (2002). Ali et al (1998) also studied the biochemical characteristics of the different strains of E. coli isolated from different sources. They reported a little or no difference in these biochemical characters and stated that such similarity among the isolates might be due to presence of some common genetic materials.
Although E. coli and Klebsiella. spp are part of the normal flora of the intestinal tract of vertebrates, nevertheless, virulent and sometimes lethal toxin-producing pathogenic strains do exist (Hunter 2003). Conclusion/Recommendation
All wild birds carry diverse micro-organisms and the present study showed that pigeon carry organisms that could be pathogenic to humans and thus handling them involves a risk to human health if good hygiene is not practiced. It should be remembered that animal-to-human onward transmission of bacterial infection is also possible. Precautions which can be applied so as to minimise risk during and subsequent to the handling of pigeons include:
- Avoiding or minimising contact with faeces.
- Avoidance of hand-to-face contact; eg licking of fingers or pencils, biting nails, smoking, eye rubbing or handling contact lenses. Use of wipes for removal of faeces from hands and clothing and for hand wiping, particularly when clean water for washing is not available.
- Hand washing with soap and water – which can be taken into the field. The bagging of used wipes for subsequent disposal and of used pigeon bags and soiled clothing for machine washing with detergents and hot water.
- The restriction of cloacal sexing to very experienced poultry farmers who should wear disposable gloves and wash their hands thoroughly after removal of gloves.
- Finally, we recommend more researches should be encouraged amongst this study population especially in the areas of serotyping and antibiogram of individual strains. Also, more researches should be carried out to determine the presence of other microorganisms that could cause infections in humans especially when they come in contact with the birds.