Mystery remains in sickness and death of songbirds

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EVANSVILLE, INDIANA (WEHT)– DNR officials said reports of songbirds who were sick and dying began coming in at the end of May. In June, they began recommending the removal of birdfeeders.

Now officials with DNR announce they’re still looking for answers- as 53 counties have now reported sick or dead birds- including Vanderburgh, Gibson, and now Warrick. They’re working alongside the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USGS National Wildlife Center to determine the cause of mortality.

“So far we are looking at every possible angle of this disease. We’ve ruled out West Nile virus and avian influenza,” state ornithologist with Indiana DNR Allisyn Gillet said.

Those with Purdue Extension Warrick County told Eyewitness News to watch backyard chickens, turkey, and ducks right now. Amanda Mosiman, ag and natural resources extension educator, said to follow biosecurity measures with flocks.

“Keeping them away from other wild bird droppings or common feeding areas and stuff like that is extremely imperative because we just don’t know if that’s a concern for those hobby flocks and I know people care about those pets deeply and we want to keep them safe and healthy,” Mosiman said.

Another thing Mosiman said flock owners should do is practice their own hygiene.

“Keep your shoes clean. Don’t let those come into the house. Basic handwashing, keep yourself and your birds healthy that way,” Mosiman said.

It’s also recommended to keep other pets, such as cats, away from wild birds and their droppings.

Gillet said to report any sick or dead bird showcasing symptoms of this disease, which can include swollen eyes, crusty eyes, and neurological symptoms such as tremors.

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