Birds continue to die at an alarming rate around Northern Virginia and across Mid-Atlantic states, with no cause yet found for the "mortality event," the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources says.

In late May, wildlife managers in D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and West Virginia began receiving reports of sick and dying birds with eye swelling and crusty discharge, as well as neurological signs. Similar reports are now coming from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Florida and Indiana.

While the majority of affected birds are reported to be fledgling common grackles, blue jays, European starlings, and American robins, other species of songbirds have been reported as well.
 
No definitive cause has been found and no human health or domestic livestock and poultry issues have been reported, the state agency said.
 
The Virginia areas affected by the mortality event include the following counties and cities: Alexandria, Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Manassas, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren, and Winchester.
 
Between May 23 and June 30, the DWR received over 1,400 reports of sick or dying birds from the affected areas. Approximately 450 of the reported cases described eye issues and/or neurological signs.
 
The natural resource management agencies in the affected states, D.C. and the National Park Service, are continuing to work with diagnostic laboratories to investigate. The laboratories include the USGS National Wildlife Health Center, the University of Georgia Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the University of Pennsylvania Wildlife Futures Program, and the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory.
 
State wildlife officials say the following infectious agents have not been detected in any birds tested, based on results received to date: Salmonella and Chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); avian influenza virus, West Nile virus and other flaviviruses, Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses; and Trichomonas parasites. Additional microbiology, virology, parasitology, and toxicology diagnostic testing is ongoing.

Birds congregating at feeders and baths can transmit disease to one another. Therefore, wildlife officials recommend that the public in the outbreak area:

  • Cease feeding birds until this wildlife mortality event has concluded;
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10% bleach solution;
  • Avoid handling birds, but wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary; and
  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution.

If you encounter sick or dead birds in Virginia, please submit an event report at http://dwr.virginia.gov/.../bird-mortality-reporting-form/. If you must remove dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash. 

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(3) comments

Paul Benedict

Birds need to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Lance Livestrong

If they were wearing masks, that would be the reason why they are dropping dead...Its science.

[innocent]

Lance Livestrong

State wildlife officials say the following infectious agents have not been detected in any birds tested, based on results received to date: Salmonella and Chlamydia (bacterial pathogens); avian influenza virus, West Nile virus and other flaviviruses, Newcastle disease virus and other paramyxoviruses, herpesviruses and poxviruses; and Trichomonas parasites. Additional microbiology, virology, parasitology, and toxicology diagnostic testing is ongoing.

The last sentence in this paragraph is key, West Nile, although common,hasn't been a big issue in the past couple of years with mosquitoes which is why there has been much less spraying going on, which isn't very effective at all to begin with, based on it only affecting active mosquitoes at the particular time the spray is administered, and not really affecting Aedes albopictus (asian tiger) species, which is prominent and the #1 carrier of W.N. in our area. But like I said, as of late, not a widespread issue.

I think Bartonella and Babesia need to be highly considered and ruled out, or in. There could be a new, more potent strain. Im hoping their research will narrow it down as soon as possible. A lot of times, birds illness' is a good forecast of what can happen to humans, so this is more important than most people realize.

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