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TWRA: No confirmed reports in Tennessee of the mysterious illness that's killing songbirds across the country

The disease causes eye swelling and crusty discharge from the eyes of birds and may also be associated with neurological symptoms, according to TWRA.

TENNESSEE, USA — A mysterious illness is killing birds across the country, and while reports of dead birds have increased in Tennessee, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) said there have been no confirmed reports of the illness in the state.

The disease causes eye swelling and crusty discharge from the eyes of birds and may also be associated with neurological symptoms, according to TWRA.

"A significant number of reports have come from Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Indiana. Most birds reported exhibiting this condition are young and have included common grackles, European starlings, blue jays, and American robins along with other species of songbirds," said TWRA in a press release.

Experts are still working to determine the cause of the disease, and have been unable so far to link it to know illnesses, like Salmonella, avian influenza, West Nile virus, Newcastle disease, herpesviruses, poxviruses, or Trichomonas parasites. 

The unknown illness has not been reported in humans or other animals. 

"TWRA is working closely with regional experts to further explore the cause and to determine if the disease is affecting birds in Tennessee," according to the press release.

If you find recently deceased birds exhibiting crustiness or bulging eyes and/or neurological issues, please contact the TWRA at (615) 781-6500.

TWRA Recommendations

  • Cease feeding birds and cover bird baths, if dead birds are found, until this wildlife mortality event subsides (food sources are not limited during the summer).
  • Clean up excess feed that has spilled or was placed onto the ground
  • Clean feeders and bird baths with a 10 percent bleach solution (one-part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinse with water, and allow to air dry.  Do not replace them.
  • Avoid handling birds unless necessary. If you do handle them wear disposable gloves. If picking up a dead bird, place an inverted plastic bag over your hand to avoid direct contact with the bird.
  • Keep pets (including pet birds) away from sick or dead wild birds as a standard precaution.