Midlothian, Virginia

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 Latest Updates

There's a lot to read here, but the news is encouraging.

From the Ithaca NY website:

While remaining vigilant about the situation and researching causes, experts at Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology and the College of Veterinary Medicine are not overly alarmed, especially as cases taper off and songbird populations remain stable.

The Cornell Wildlife Health Lab has been monitoring the evolving situation. The lab, housed under the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, was created in 2010 with the Department of Environmental Conservation in order to develop a wildlife disease surveillance program. The lab works with a network of partners on the local, state, and national level, and engages with the public in order to promote the health of wildlife populations.

Through their highly connected communication channels, the lab received the first reports of cases at the end of May from partners in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Researchers in these states began testing, but were unable to come up with any conclusive results about the outbreak.

“Over the course of weeks, no one was finding anything infectious,” Elizabeth Bunting, Senior Extension Associate at the Cornell Wildlife Health Lab said. “They did a lot of testing but could not come up with any disease process, and the rehabilitators were telling us they were trying antibiotics and things like that, but they did not have great effectiveness.”

In just the past few weeks, the Wildlife Lab has received widespread news of declining cases and dropping mortality rates.

“Information coming out of the National Wildlife Health Center and some of the other states said that the cases were declining all of a sudden,” Bunton said. “That would not be typical of an infectious disease outbreak. You wouldn't expect an infectious disease to just spontaneously go away.”

This sudden decline lends support to the tentative hypothesis regarding a cause of the outbreak. The most recent working theory is that the outbreak is related to the emergence of the cicadas this year — the geographic distribution and the timing of the undetermined songbird illness directly coincides with the arrival of the cicadas.

The cicadas emerged in Washington, DC and eleven other states: Delaware, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, Florida, and Kentucky in mid May. Birds in these states started showing the unusual symptoms about a week later.

“The distribution of states where this spontaneously popped up was an exact match for the cicada emergence map, and it is a very strange distribution of states for this kind of outbreak,” Bunton said. “It was Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and then it moved over to Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana but it completely skipped New York and the rest of New England. That is an exact replica of the cicada map.”

Researchers such as Bunton believe that the ingestion of the cicadas could have had toxic effects on the birds. It is possible that individuals sprayed the cicadas with pesticides, which have chemicals that affect the brains of birds and could have caused the neurological symptoms. Cicadas also carry fungi that can produce toxins when ingested which could have also produced the illness in the birds.

The decline in cases corresponds with the retreat of the cicadas. Although researchers will continue to monitor the situation, Bunton expressed that the outbreak should not be a cause of alarm. The diminishing outbreak does not pose any safety threats to humans, nor does it threaten the stability of the various songbird species.

You can find the complete article at https://www.ithaca.com/news/


From the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources


Virginia was one of the first states that received reports of birds displaying eye and neurological signs. As a result, since early June, the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR), along with other local collaborating organizations, has been documenting dead or sick bird reports and submissions to cooperating wildlife rehabilitation hospitals. From these data, DWR was able to target our response guidance to the areas of Virginia most likely to be affected by this mortality event, which include Alexandria, Arlington, Clarke, Fairfax, Falls Church, Fauquier, Frederick, Loudoun, Manassas, Prince William, Shenandoah, Warren, and Winchester. The Richmond area is not included as an area of concern.
Since early June, reports of dead or sick birds from the affected areas submitted via DWR’s online form have decreased by 50%. Reports of dead or sick birds submitted to the Animal Rescue League of Arlington (ARLA) have also dropped from an average of 17 reports per day in early June to 1.5 reports per day in July. In the last two weeks, cooperating wildlife rehabilitation veterinarians in the affected area and ARLA staff have only reported a total of two observations of affected birds.
DWR is working with the various wildlife health labs involved in this investigation, as well as the other states involved in this mortality event. Diagnostic investigations of this nature can be prolonged, due to the wide range of testing possibilities, and because of this no definitive cause(s) of illness or death have been determined at this time. Experts are utilizing all possible diagnostic avenues including toxicology (herbicides, pesticides, etc.), viral, bacterial, and parasitology.
DWR advises removing bird feeders any time multiple dead birds are observed on a property over a short period of time. Feeders and bird baths should be disinfected with a 10% bleach solution (one part bleach mixed with nine parts water), rinsed with water, and allowed to air dry. Generally, for the health of wild birds, it is a good practice to disinfect bird feeders and baths at least every two weeks.

For additional information on this mortality event, please visit: dwr.virginia



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