A U.S. Geological Survey has found that Birds of the mid-Atlantic are disappearing at an alarming rate. This is due to a mysterious illness that scientists have yet to name.
According to the survey, the disease causes eye swelling, neurological damage, and ultimately, death. As a result, the scientists are warning residents to refrain from feeding birds until more is known about the disease and how it can be prevented or treated.
A recent joint statement by the US Geological Survey (USGS) on behalf of a number of state agencies throughout Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and DC, says the disease spreads when birds congregate in feeders and baths.
They ask residents to disinfect and remove such ornaments from their homes until the “mortality event” has ended and more is known about how the disease can be treated or prevented.
Megan Kirchgessner, a veterinarian with Virginia’s Department of Wildlife Resources, told the Washington Post that more than 325 reports of ailing birds have been collected since the mysterious disease was first identified in May.
“This is significant because it seems to be pretty widespread, and also it’s extending for a pretty good period of time. And it’s continuing,” she said.
And although there is no proof yet that the illness is transmissible to humans or other animal species, extreme hygienic precautions should be taken if handling one of these birds becomes necessary.