Authorities warn that thousands of migrating birds have been found positive of avian cholera, an infectious viral disease, this month.
Avian Cholera Outbreak
On Tuesday, Jan. 22, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that they have collected thousands of carcasses of dead birds from the south end of the Salton Sea. While the agency burned most of the carcasses, they shipped several samples to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations La in Rancho Cordova, which showed that the birds were infected with avian cholera.
According to the agency, an avian cholera outbreak happens every year when birds fly closely together during migration. Waterfowls and coots are most commonly infected by the disease.
It is caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida, which is transmitted via direct contact or through the consumption of contaminated food and water. Scavenging birds might also catch the disease by eating the carcass of infected birds. Every winter, avian cholera causes thousands of birds to die.
Gibson County, Indiana is also positive of the disease. Since December, hundreds of birds have been found dead in the area.
"The big concern in some of these disease investigations is to make sure it doesn't impact our ability to export commercial poultry," Denise Derrer, the spokesman for the state's Board of Animal Health, stated to Indy Star. "And it won't in this case."
Threat From Avian Cholera
Derrer clarified that avian cholera is different from avian flu, a disease that caused an outbreak that led to international export of poultry's temporary shutdown several years ago. However, she added that because the disease is carried by migrating birds, the outbreak of avian cholera is unpredictable.
She advised local livestock and poultry owners to place measures to prevent any contact with the migrating birds. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources also discouraged hunters from hunting and taking birds that might be infected.
Signs that the bird has avian cholera include lethargy, flying in circles or erratically, miscalculated landing attempts, and lesions on the heart, intestines, gizzard, and liver. Any carcass of birds that are suspected to be infected with the disease should be immediately discarded.