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Wildlife Alert: Unknown Bird Disease Outbreak

Reports of sick and dying birds have been reported in Washington, D.C., Virginia, Maryland and West Virginia. The birds are infected with a pathogen that causes the birds’ eyes to swell and release a crusty discharge. Birds also present abnormal behavior and neurological problems. At this point, the cause has not been identified. 

Birds that congregate at feeders and water baths can spread avian diseases to other birds. 

Currently, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources recommends that residents within the outbreak area in the eastern panhandle cease feeding birds until this event has concluded.

  • Clean your bird feeders and baths with soap and hot water.
  • Disinfect your feeders and baths with a 10% bleach solution.
  • Avoid handling any sick or dead birds. Wear gloves if handling is necessary.
  • Keep pets away from any sick or dead birds.
  • Please report any bird mortality events to your local West Virginia DNR office. 

Residents outside of the outbreak area may continue to feed birds. However, now is a good time to clean and disinfect feeders and bird baths. Pulling your feeders down now will reduce the risk of spreading this unknown pathogen. During the summer months, there are plenty of natural foods, such as seeds and insects, available, so removing these artificial food sources will not have significant impacts to local bird populations. 

Residents may continue feeding hummingbirds, but should clean feeders with soap and water, and ensure hummingbird food is fresh every few days.

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