Skip to content
Mine Type: All Mines Category:   Hygiene & Housekeeping
Mine Safety and Health Administration
MSHA's Occupational Illness and Injury Prevention Program
Miner's Tips

"Birds and Bats"

PDF Version
Your Health Comes First!

Respiratory diseases such as histoplasmosis, psittacosis and cryptococcosis can be transmitted by excretions of birds, fowl or bats. These diseases are transmitted either by inhaling the dust from feathers or dropping or inhaling contaminated soil.

Miners could become contaminated through infected soils in mines and droppings on the floor or rafters of mining structures. Symptoms appear within 3-17 days of exposure. In most cases, the symptoms are mild and flu-like. Fever, chills, headache, fatigue, cough, breathing difficulty, chest tightness, enlarged lymph nodes, lung inflammation and pneumonia can occur. Death is rare.

Prevent the spread of infection by cleaning up the infected area:
  • Barricade the infected area; warn others who may travel in the area;
  • Minimize ventilation to the area to avoid disturbing dust or feathers;
  • Wear a particulate respirator equal to N-95 or better;
  • Wear disposable gloves and eye protection;
  • Avoid dry scraping or sweeping of dried bird/bat manure or bird feathers;
  • Spray infected material with disinfectant and let it set 5 minutes before disturbing;
  • removing feces, feathers, bird carcasses etc. with a shovel or dust pan;
  • Disinfect with 70% isopropyl alcohol; 1% lysol, or a dilution of household bleach; Caution: use formalin (a carcinogen) for histoplasma;
  • Discard all materials, that cannot be adequately disinfected, in a biohazard bag;
  • Spray the floor with disinfectant and mop it up; dispose of the mop head in a biohazard bag; and
  • Disinfect the dustpan.

Issued: 12/31/2003
Tag # AP2002-H029

MSHA extends a thank you and a tip of the hardhat to
Mr. Don Summers,
a winner of a limited edition sticker and patch.

If you have a tip you would like to pass on, you can e-mail it to
If your tip is selected, you will receive credit in this space.