Local rescue urges residents to remove bird feeders after salmonella outbreak

INDIAN TRAIL, N.C. — Carolina Waterfowl Rescue in Indian Trail has issued a warning to residents after birds being treated there died from salmonella infection.

According to a post on the group’s Facebook page Monday morning, the diagnosis was confirmed by lab results.

The group stated that reports are surfacing from other states as well, which could indicate a widespread outbreak. The infections seem to be contained to Pine Siskins and some goldfinches, but other reports have shown a very small percentage of other birds may be affected. The disease is typically spread through food or water contaminated with feces.

The group is urging the public to help slow the spread of salmonella by removing bird feeders if any sick birds are spotted in the area.

Songbirds Dying From Salmonella Outbreak Local Rescue Urges Residents to Remove Bird Feeders Indian Trail, NC March 8,...

Posted by Carolina Waterfowl Rescue on Monday, March 8, 2021

Salmonellosis can cause death in birds that congregate at feeders. Infected birds can appear healthy yet be asymptomatic carriers and infect other birds. Birds exhibiting symptoms may appear as fluffed up, thin, lethargic, have swollen or closed eyes and be easy to approach.

The rescue also recommends cleaning feeders and birdbaths frequently with warm, soapy water outside -- not in a kitchen or bathroom sink.

Feeders and baths can be disinfected by using a 10% bleach solution and allowing to dry thoroughly.

“Leave feeders and baths down for 2 to 3 weeks to discourage birds from congregating. They will dissipate and forage naturally. In addition, clean all bird feeder poles and hooks as remove all spilled seeds and feces from the ground underneath the feeders,” the post read.

According to the group, if you do find a dead bird, do not touch it with your bare hands; practice good hygiene by wearing gloves and thoroughly washing hands afterward. Since birds can transmit salmonella to other pets and humans, the group suggests picking up the dead bird with a plastic bag before disposing of it.

Pet owners should check outdoors to make sure there are no sick or dead birds that a pet can reach. If you suspect your pet has been exposed to a sick bird, contact your veterinarian immediately.

In North Carolina, only federally licensed wildlife rehabilitators can legally treat wild birds, so if you find a sick bird, text the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue hotline at 704-286-6330.