Wild birds contract salmonella through bird feeders, bird baths

Salmonella spreading in wild birds

LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A statewide bacterial infection is killing wild birds, according to the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. Many of these deaths are a result of salmonella, which is transmittable to humans and in severe cases, can cause death.

State veterinarian Dr. Jim LaCour said infection is often associated with bird feeders and even bird baths. Wild birds contract salmonella and spread the disease to other birds in the area.

“These birds can contract this salmonella at bird feeders or at bird baths. It can be contagious to humans,” LaCour said.

According to the CDC, several cases of salmonella across the United States were attributed to infected birds. Dr. LaCour said if you spot dead birds in your yard, you should wash and store feeders and bird baths for a couple of months, in order to slow the spread of potential infection.

“Wear gloves, remove those feeders and take them to an area where you don’t process food,” LaCour said. “You don’t want to wash them in your kitchen sink, and disinfect them in a 10 percent bleach solution.”

Songbird rehabilitator Julie Rabalais said salmonella is a very common disease for birds. This year, it is more prevalent due to migration of pine siskin. This species of bird is more susceptible to certain diseases.

“They are going to get it more often, and when they are at all of our feeders, they will shed it through their droppings,” Rabalais said.

Birds who are easily approached or who physically appear to be sick likely have salmonella due to prevalence in cases this year.

“If you see that later on they are dead, or more than one bird is dead, you can assume that there is an issue there,” Rabalais said.

Improper maintenance is only doing these wild birds a disservice.

“If we can’t commit to it, or we are too busy, or our lifestyle doesn’t allow it, we really shouldn’t be feeding our wild birds or offering them a dirty source of water” Rabalais said.

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