Ky. Fish & Wildlife receives hundreds of reports about mystery illness affecting birds

Published: Jun. 23, 2021 at 11:52 AM EDT
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KENTUCKY (WKYT) - An unknown illness is causing many birds to die or, develop other issues, and it’s impacting much of Kentucky.

According to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife, several states are involved in this unknown illness impacting birds and, in Kentucky, it appears to be worse in northern and central regions.

Since opening their submission portal last Friday, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife has received roughly 700 reports across the state.

According to Dr. Christine Casey, a wildlife veterinarian with the department, not all of those reports will come back with a positive test for the unknown illness, but they have been sorting through the reports to get a better understand of where hot spots are in the state.

At this time, it appears to be affecting bluejays, common grackles and European starlings most frequently, but there have been a handful of reports in other species as well.

When looking out for birds affected by this unknown illness, Dr. Casey says there are some easy symptoms to spot.

“Swelling kind of poofy eyes, discharge, ultimately when they’re getting into rehabbers, they’re pretty much blind, their eyes have crusted over at that point and then there’s also this other component which is a neurological problem,” Dr. Casey said.

Dr. Casey says it will likely still be some time before results come back from the national lab, but they are continuing to urge people to submit reports to their website if you suspect a bird to have or have died from the illness.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife says people with bird feeders should wash them once to twice a week with a 10% bleach solution to keep them clean of any possible contagion.

At this time, the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife says poultry and other household birds haven’t been impacted by this bird illness, but they continue to urge people to submit reports to their website.

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