Salmonella Confirmed in Southern WI; DNR Asks Residents to Report Dead Birds

Posted Friday, January 11, 2013 --- 10:54 a.m.

Press Release from the Wisconsin DNR:

MADISON – State wildlife officials are asking back yard birders to clean feeders and be on the lookout for sick or dead birds, after salmonella has been confirmed in a small number of pine siskins from Dane County. Sick goldfinches and sparrows have also been reported in Dodge and Crawford Counties.

“We appreciate citizens reporting sick or dead birds around their feeders to the DNR so we can monitor the disease,” said Nancy Businga, wildlife health lab manager with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. “Salmonella is a bacterial disease that has the potential to spread to other areas so we also ask that people follow recommendations to help protect healthy birds that visit the feeder or bird bath.”

The following recommendations apply year round and statewide, though are especially important in the current area of known infection.

-Clean feeders, feeding areas, and birdbaths regularly, using a 10 percent bleach solution as a disinfectant before the final rinse. If you see a sick or dead bird at a feeder, take down all feeders temporarily, clean them with the 10 percent bleach solution and wait two weeks before putting them back up.
-Dispose of seed hulls under feeders.
-Consider moving feeders periodically to prevent buildup of waste underneath the feeder.
-Keep seeds and food dry and discard any food that gets wet or moldy.
-Replace water in a birdbath every two to three days.
-Wear disposable gloves when cleaning a bird feeder or birdbath.

“These recommendations are good practice anywhere year round, but are especially noteworthy for the southern portion of the state with the known presence of salmonella,” Businga said. “The expected warmer temperatures this week will make ideal conditions for bacteria at the feeders, so people should be especially careful about keeping their feeders clean and dry, promptly removing any spilled or wet food.”

Birds that are more stressed from their migration, like the pine siskin, may be more susceptible to infection with Salmonella but all birds that congregate at bird feeders could be at risk, according to Businga.

According to the National Wildlife Health Center (exit DNR), salmonella bacteria live in the intestines and are passed out through the feces. It can spread through direct contact from bird to bird, or through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces from an infected bird.

The salmonella strain usually found in birds may cause illness in people. This risk can be minimized by wearing rubber gloves when handling carcasses, droppings, and cleaning feeders and baths. Wash hands afterwards in warm soapy water. Clean feeders in a bucket outside, avoiding the use of indoor sinks.

For more information on bird diseases and to report a sick or dead bird, please visit and search keywords “wildlife health.”

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