Exotic Newcastle Disease Killed Wild Birds13 January 2011
FLORIDA, US - Exotic Newcastle disease (ND) has been found to be the cause of death in wild birds in Pinellas County.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is thanking the Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary for detecting a deadly disease in birds, reports WTSP.
The sanctuary says some of its rescuers were on their usual searches for injured birds in the wild when they came across some sick cormorants last Friday.
Native to Florida, the cormorant is a small black bird. They can be seen diving under water or drying their wings.
The cormorants the rescuers recently found suffered from symptoms of neurological problems, including muscular issues like twitching. It turned out those are signs of the Exotic Newcastle Disease. For birds, the disease is deadly.
The sanctuary quarantined the cormorants and alerted the state of Florida's first case of the disease since 2002.
Fortunately, none of the sanctuary's birds were infected.
"Our sanctuary is safe and healthy," said Michelle Simoneau.
There are more than 300 birds being rehabilitated at the sanctuary and normally they release some of those birds on a weekly basis. Since the detection of the disease, the sanctuary has a self-imposed quarantine of the rest of its birds will not release any birds any time soon.
"Just to be on the safe side," said Ms Simoneau.
While the staff at the sanctuary should be careful since they handle birds for a living, health experts say the general public does not need to worry.
In a statement, the Pinellas County Health Department told 10 News that the disease is "not really harmful to humans although those who come into contact with infected birds experience 'pink eye' and some minor irritations."
The FDOACS says its concerned for all other birds, including the poultry industry.
"It is such a serious disease that if it did become established in our domestic birds, there would be an agricultural emergency declared," said Dr. Thomas Holt, the director of the Animal Industry Division of the FDOACS.
So far, there are five confirmed cases of this disease and FDOACS is still testing, according to WTSP. The state urges anyone with birds, to constantly wash their hands and disinfect their shoes and clothing. That includes people with pet birds. Keep an eye on your pet for any symptoms, including muscular tremors and coughing.
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