July 21, 2021


US songbird deaths seemingly of no credible threat to poultry sector



Unknown songbird deaths — that first occurred in Washington, DC, the United States, in mid-May, and are currently reported in 36 counties in US state Pennsylvania — do not appear to be a threat to the poultry industry.


Still, experts continue to monitor the situation and advise poultry producers to make sure biosecurity measures are in place and barns are sealed to prevent wild birds from entering.


As of July 8, the Wildlife Futures Program at the University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school, in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, had received 1,679 public reports of dead or sick birds through its online bird mortality portal. This includes 1,525 unique bird reports in Pennsylvania.


It was estimated that 25 to 30% of the Pennsylvania reports are associated with the current songbird mortality event. Most of the reports have come from the southeast part of the state, but every region has generated reports, according to the Game Commission website.


The most common clinical symptoms include discharge and crusting around the eyes, eye lesions and neurological signs such as falling over or head tremors.


Affected birds are being tested for several toxins, parasites, bacterial diseases and viral infections.


To date, test results have been inconclusive, but officials have ruled out salmonella, chlamydia, avian influenza, West Nile virus, Newcastle and other diseases.


Testing is being conducted at Penn Vet's New Bolton Center and Penn State's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory.


Shannon Powers, press secretary for Pennsylvania's Department of Agriculture, said there has been no increase in reports of disease or mortality among poultry since the Wildlife Futures Program and United States Department of Agriculture began investigating the songbird deaths.


- Lancaster Farming