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Birds are suddenly dying: What’s causing mystery illness in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana?

( WLWT )


Songbirds are mysteriously dying across several states, including Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.


So what's causing the sudden die-off? Scientists are scratching their heads.


Since May, wildlife officials in various states have had numerous reports of several dead birds or birds with similar symptoms. If they're not dead, they're having symptoms of some sort of neurological issue.


Puffy, swollen eyes with a crusty discharge are some of the symptoms spotted in the birds that are falling sick in parts of Cincinnati.


"Lots of neurological-type issues with the eyes with blindness, feather loss on the head," Brian Banbury, Executive Administration of Info and Education for Ohio Division of Wildlife, said.


The other qualifying indicator: dead birds.


"It's primarily in the blue jays and the grackles — in that family group," Banbury said.


Wildlife researchers say the birds tend to be younger, or even baby birds, but the science hasn't quite caught up to what the illness is or what's causing it.


"Good evidence shows that it could be bacterial in nature, some sort of strange outbreak," Banbury said.


Whatever it is, it doesn't seem to be affecting all species of birds.


"We've not seen anything in the poultry industry or birds of prey that we know of," Banbury said.


The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources has issued statewide guidance:


  • Clean bird feeders and baths immediately with a 10% bleach solution, then weekly thereafter.

  • Avoid handling birds, and wear disposable gloves if handling is necessary

  • Keep pets away from sick or dead birds as a standard precaution

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources recommends all Hoosiers statewide remove their birdfeeders after the agency received reports of sick and dying songbirds from 15 counties.


The 15 counties where they've been found dead are Clark, Delaware, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, LaGrange, Lake, Marion, Monroe, Newton, St. Joseph, Union, Washington and Whitley, the DNR said.


In the meantime, officials in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana say if you see a potentially infected bird, report it to your state's wildlife department.

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