Officials asked Hoosier residents to take down their bird feeders as many song birds in Indiana are being stricken by a deadly illness. Provided image
Officials asked Hoosier residents to take down their bird feeders as many song birds in Indiana are being stricken by a deadly illness. Provided image
In the wake of a neurological disease sweeping through populations of Indiana songbirds, Hoosiers are being urged to remove bird feeders to prevent the spread of illness.

Lake and Newton counties are among the 15 counties statewide that have reported sick and dying songbirds, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said. The other counties include Clark, Delaware, Hamilton, Jackson, Jefferson, Johnson, LaGrange, Marion, Monroe, St. Joseph, Union, Washington and Whitley.

Wildlife officials said that infected birds show signs of neurological problems, as well as swelling of the eyes and a crusty discharge. Currently, the DNR is working with the Indiana Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory and the USGS National Wildlife Health Center to determine what is causing the illness and death.

The DNR said that blue jays, American robins, common grackles, northern cardinals, European starlings and more have been affected by this mysterious fatal illness.

So far, the several samples from the birds have tested negative for avian influenza and West Nile virus. The final results from the lab tests are still pending.

The DNR said residents should halt feeding birds until the songbirds stop dying off in order to prevent the continued spread. The bird feeders and bird baths should also be thoroughly cleaned with a 10% bleach solution.

People should also avoid handling birds, or to wear gloves when handling or disposing of dead birds. Pets should also be kept away from birds as precaution.

If the public observes a sick or dead bird, they can report it online to the DNR at on.IN.gov/sickwildlife.
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