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Salmonella outbreak sickens pine siskins
The Wildlife Rescue Association is asking bird lovers to clean and disinfect their feeders and bird baths after admitting more than 50 pine siskins for treatment of salmonella since the beginning of January.
Last year the WRA had treated only two birds with salmonella through the first part of the year.
The sick birds exhibit symptoms like fluffed-up feathers, difficulty flying, swollen eyelids and lethargy. Most salmonella outbreaks in songbirds are caused by contaminated feeders.
Pine siskins, which travel in tight flocks, are particularly susceptible. They ingest contaminated food and water, or contract the infection by coming into contact with feces or other sick birds.
"By being vigilant and proactive, members of the public an help reduce the spread of infection and limit the risk to local pine siskin populations," says Crystal Simmons, the care centre liaison at the WRA.
To help that happen, the WRA recommends anyone who spots sick or dead birds around their feeder or bird bath should take it down for at least a week to encourage the birds to disperse and reduce the chances of infection spreading within a flock.
Feeders should be cleaned at least once a week with a solution comprised of 10 per cent bleach, then air-dryed before being refilled. They should also be moved around regularly to prevent the build-up of feces.
Though the risk of the salmonella infection spreading to humans is very small, people should always wash their hands after handling birds and feeders.
Sick birds should be placed in a small box with a towel or facecloth and brought to the WRA for treatment.