Mysterious bird illness: Ohio expert reveals if it’s safe to feed them again

Ohio News

**Watch a previous report of the illness in the video player above.**

CLEVELAND (WJW) — An unknown illness plaguing Ohio birds since June is still a mystery to researchers.

That’s according to Laura Kearns, a wildlife biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife, who said that while the rates of birds with the illness are reportedly declining, precautions are still necessary as scientists work to discover what’s behind the fatal disease.

Some wild songbirds — including blue jays, common grackles, European starlings, American robins, and house sparrows — have reportedly been exhibiting the following troubling symptoms: white crusts in the eyes or swollen eyes, and nervous system damage. This is leading to an inability to fly and death.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is still asking people to stop feeding birds and to take down their bird feeders and clean them, potentially helping with the spread of the illness.

“This is still a precaution, we still don’t know if it’s an infections disease,” Kearns said. “People have been taking their feeders down and maybe that is helping stop the spread, if it is infectious.”

Those who find a dead or diseased bird can submit a report online to help biologists track the spread.

ODNR will reportedly update the public when its bird feeding guidance has changed. In the meantime, Kearns said experts from the 10 regional states the illness has been seen continue to work together to try and determine what is behind the disease.

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