Experts move closer to cause of mysterious death of songbirds in United States | Life

Washington, DC – Across the northeast, numerous reports of songbird deaths have prompted an investigation into the cause of the mysterious disease.

Although the exact cause is still unknown, experts are getting closer to solving the mystery.

First noticed in April in Washington, DC, the disease causes swollen and crusted eyes in birds, disorientation and, in some cases, partial loss of body function.

Related Reading: Don’t Feed the Birds! Mysterious death of songbirds in Pennsylvania sparks investigation

Birds with the disease are often disoriented and fly in circles, start to tremble, and then die.

In June, symptomatic birds were reported in the northeast and in several southern states, including Kentucky and Georgia. Thousands of sick birds were reported in late June, prompting experts to recommend that individuals take down feeders and birdbaths to prevent congregation of songbirds.

At this point, the experts were able to rule out a few major illnesses.

According to a report published by the US Geological Survey (USGS), scientists have ruled out West Nile virus and bird flu virus, which is good news as these diseases are also known to infect humans.

In addition, “salmonella and chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses; herpes viruses and poxviruses; and trichomonas parasites”, were also excluded as causes. according to the USGS report.

So, what causes the mysterious deaths of birds? It is still not clear.

As researchers continue to investigate, a few theories have been put forward that could be possible explanations for the mysterious deaths.

One line of speculation, blames the emergence of Brood X cicadas. As they emerge, some insects bring with them a deadly white fungus to the surface.

This white fungus has gained public attention because of its ability to take over the brains of cicadas and make them, well, very sexually motivated. As infected cicadas wiggle their abdomen in an attempt to mate, they spread the fungus spores and infect other cicadas with the deadly white fungus.

Some experts have suggested the possibility that when birds eat infected cicadas, they ingest the white fungus spores and eventually die. However, no concrete evidence has been found to support this theory.

The investigation is continuing and, in the meantime, the USGS is asking people to take these precautions:

  • Stop feeding birds until this wildlife morbidity / mortality event resolves;

  • Clean feeders and birdbaths with a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinse with water and allow to air dry;

  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you handle them, wear disposable gloves. If you pick up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird; and

  • Keep domestic animals (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution.

  • To dispose of dead birds, place them in a plastic bag, seal them and dispose of them with household garbage or bury them deeply.

Anyone who finds a sick or dead bird is urged to contact their state or district wildlife conservation agency for instructions.

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