Story at a glance

  • Birds within the DMV-area are being blinded and dying off from a mysterious disease.
  • The unknown illness is causing eye swelling, neurological damage and death.
  • More than 325 infected birds have been identified since they first surfaced in May.

Birds within the Washington, D.C., area are being blinded and dying off from a mysterious disease, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The unknown illness is causing eye swelling, neurological damage and death. Since the first sick birds surfaced in May, the Washington Post reports more than 325 infected birds have been identified.

The United States Geological Survey and other state agencies are urging residents to cease feeding birds in the interim, clean feeders and baths with a 10-percent bleach solution, refrain from handling the birds and keep pets away from the birds as a precaution. If it is absolutely necessary to remove a dead bird, people should use a sealable plastic bag.


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“This is truly scary,” Jim Monsma, the lead organizer for DC’s City Wildlife, told DCist. “We don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, as it were, yet. And it’s just every day more and more birds.”

Residents are asked to look out for any birds exhibiting signs of illness, such as swollen, crusted eyes or seizures and a lack of balance, and call their local district or state wildlife agency without handling them.

“At this point, we’re so inundated, we are just euthanizing because it’s a miserable condition for these birds,” Monsma said. “Our role at this point is simply to spare them additional suffering and an inevitable death.”


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Published on Jun 23, 2021