Every year the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sees an outbreak of salmonella among southern songbirds, including cardinals and robins. This year, the outbreak is higher than usual, but as DNR spokesperson Brett Witt says, there’s no word yet on why that’s the case.
“Now the question is, and it’s still under investigation, is the uptick that we are seeing and the numbers that the biologists are telling us about, is there something outside of the enviroment? Is it manmade? We can tell you, and biologists seem relatively good about the fact that it is not related to the recent peanut salmonella scare that has been going on in the last oh, couple months or so,” says Witt.
Witt says they hope to have some answers from this investigation in the next couple of months. He says he does not foresee that the birds will eventually die off and become extinct, but he says biologists are still concerned. This specific type of salmonella, known as Salmonella Typhimurium, is passed through fecal matter; however, Witt says there is some good news. “This particular salmonella infection is not related to the salmonella that can genetically match up with humans. So, we don’t have to worry too much as far as that’s concerned, atleast at this initial stage that humans have to be concerned as far as it transferring to us,” says Witt.
But the affected songbirds are typically the ones found in someone’s backyard, so it’s possible that the disease could affect someone’s pet if that animal comes in contact with a bird. Witt says it’s important to keep birdfeeders clean, and if a dead bird is found, disinfect the feeder and take it down for about a week.