Yesterday a flock of birds (crows) passed over my head. I've heard that there are many bacteria and lice in the feathers of birds. So I'm thinking about whether to wear or launder the clothes that I wore. What do you recommend I do? Is it ok to wear it again?

  • $\begingroup$ Yes, you're fine wearing the same clothes again. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jan 6 '19 at 17:57
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b Thank you for you answer, Sorry for asking one more question, But can I ask If you are answering that it's ok because there is no pathogens on my clothes or It's ok because the pathogens on my clothes can't infect me? I'm sorry for making you to answer twice. $\endgroup$ – グルメ Jan 7 '19 at 9:00
  • $\begingroup$ I'm answering (commenting actually because I don't think of my comment as a full trustworthy answer) in the sense that most people have birds flying over their heads regularly and no one has never seemed to really suffer from it. You probably don't have any pathogens on your clothes. If you did, those would be crow pathogens, not human pathogens anyway. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Jan 7 '19 at 16:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Remi.b Sorry for late reply. I see! Thank you for your additional comment at my a bit vesatious request. Thank you $\endgroup$ – グルメ Jan 10 '19 at 16:38

The situation and context is of some minor importance: Did you encounter the birds in close proximity, such as startling them from the ground and receive a cloud of dust and feathers as they departed? Did they fly dozens or hundreds of meters overhead?

While it's true that many birds have some population of feather lice (Mallophaga), even in healthy birds, they are harmless to humans.1

All animals, including humans, are hosts to vast populations of bacteria. Of these, the majority are innocuous or even necessary or helpful. That said, microorganisms can be the cause of illness and moreso if they are unfamiliar to your immune system.2

Wild animals can be carriers of disease, and one should always exercise caution when handling or working with animals. Getting bitten, scratched, or even removing a carcass from a roadway, for example, has certain risks associated.

Note that most situations where illness or health problems arise usually involve contact with fluids, breaks in your skin, etc. Our skin and immune systems are remarkably efficient at keeping pathogens out or neutralized. Unless you were in direct contact with the animals and/or were injured in some way, or had a sneeze or excretion come your way, you should be fine. (And even if you were in direct contact you would likely still be fine. An injury such as a scratch from a wild animal should be disinfected and monitored.)


  1. Temple, S. A. 2001. Form and Function: The External Bird. In Handbook of Bird Biology (S. Podulka, R. Rohrbaugh, Jr., and R. Bonney, eds.) The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Ithaca, NY.

  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacteria

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  • $\begingroup$ Sorry for late choosing the best answer. Thank you for a very specific answer, and your proofreading of the title as well. And well, the crows were right above my head. My question would sound more too much worrying than now If the crows were several hundred meter over my head X) Thank you for your consideration again. $\endgroup$ – グルメ Jan 10 '19 at 16:42

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