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Ohio birds are dying of mysterious illness that causes crusted-over eyes, blindness, & death

Bird found with mysterious illness in Kentucky
Bird found with mysterious illness in Kentucky(Ginger Rood)
Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 10:03 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOIO) - Birds in Central Ohio are suffering from a mysterious illness that is causing crusted-over eyes, blindness, neurological issues, and even death, according to a Preservation Parks of Delaware County Facebook post.

Last week, the agency asked the public to contact the Ohio Wildlife Center at 614.793.9453 or the Ohio Division of Wildlife at 1.800.WILDLIFE if they encountered sick birds.

“Until the cause is determined, Preservation Parks has removed bird feeders from our parks to avoid any possible spread if the issue does happen to be caused by individual contact with other birds,” the post said. “Larger birds such as blue jays, starlings, robins, and grackles seem to be most noticeably affected, but other birds may be affected as well.”

The Ohio Wildlife Center in Delaware county has taken in birds suffering from the illness, ThisWeek Community News reported last week. None have survived.

Late in May, wildlife managers in Washington 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,” the National Wildlife Health Center said in a June 9 media release. “No definitive cause of death is identified at this time.”

The NWHC asks the public to contact your state or District wildlife conservation agency if you encounter sick or dead birds.

“If you must remove dead birds, place them in a sealable plastic bag to dispose with household trash,” the center said.

Environmental agencies including the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the National Park Service are investigating the cause of the deaths.

The NWHC recommended the following for those living in outbreak areas:

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

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