TWRA: Unknown bird disease found in 5 states not discovered in Tennessee

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The TWRA is warning people about a disease affecting birds in several eastern and midwestern states. The disease is reportedly causing birds’ eyes to swell and give off a crusty discharge. It may also be associated with neurological symptoms.

Affected Fledgling Grackle (Photo via TWRA)

A large number of reports have come from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Birds exhibiting this condition include common grackles, European starlings, blue jays, and American robins along with other species of songbirds. The majority are young birds according to TWRA. There are no confirmed cases of the disease in Tennessee and there have been no reports of the disease occurring in humans, poultry, or livestock.

Disease experts are working to determine the cause and have not found signs of infection from known illnesses including Salmonella, avian influenza, West Nile virus, Newcastle disease and Trichomonas parasites. TWRA is closely working with experts to further explore the cause and to determine if the disease is affecting birds in Tennessee.

TWRA Recommendations

  • If dead birds are found, cease feeding birds and cover bird baths until this wildlife mortality event subsides (food sources are not limited during the summer).
  • Clean up excess feed that has spilled or was placed onto the ground.
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10 percent bleach solution (one-part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinse with water, and allow to air dry. Do not replace them.
  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you do handle them wear disposable gloves. If picking up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird.
  • Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution.
  • If you find recently deceased birds exhibiting crustiness or bulging eyes and/or neurological issues, please use your discretion to contact the TWRA at (615) 781-6500.

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