Mys­te­ri­ous mag­pie deaths

Kalamunda Reporter - - News -

A MYS­TERY dis­ease is claim­ing the lives of na­tive birds.

In a Face­book post on Mon­day, Kanyana Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Cen­tre in Lesmurdie re­ported that “a new or uniden­ti­fied dis­ease” had be­sieged mag­pies.

“Our first ca­su­alty ap­peared in De­cem­ber 2017 and by the end of March we re­ceived 14 cases,” the post read. “Af­fected mag­pies have a 50-50 chance of sur­vival.”

The symp­toms in­cluded pro­gres­sive weak­ness in the legs and wings, clenched feet, in­abil­ity to stand, neu­ro­log­i­cal de­fi­ciency (not de­fen­sive, poor re­sponse to vis­ual stim­uli, poor swal­low re­flex), weak neck, res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress, ex­ces­sive thick oral mu­cous, and weight loss (thin or ema­ci­ated).

Ac­cord­ing to Kanyana, it was too early to know what caused the dis­ease and how it was be­ing spread but en­cour­aged people to keep an eye on mag­pies and bring any birds to the cen­tre if they showed sim­i­lar symp­toms.

A Perth Zoo spokes­woman said it had re­ceived re­ports of sev­eral “black and white” bird deaths, which re­sem­bled cases in New South Wales between 2001 and 2006 of a neu­ro­log­i­cal syn­drome in the birds.

“The WA birds are pre­sent­ing with neu­ro­log­i­cal signs and have a typ­i­cally poor prog­no­sis due to rapid de­te­ri­o­ra­tion,” she said.

“Other anec­do­tal signs re­ported in­clude de­pres­sion, some de­gree of leg paral­y­sis and mu­cous dis­charge.”

Perth Zoo se­nior vet­eri­nar­ian Si­mone Vi­tali said post mortem ex­am­i­na­tions of the birds were be­ing un­der­taken, with ad­di­tional test­ing to in­ves­ti­gate pos­si­ble in­fec­tious causes for the deaths

“Sick birds and dead birds have not been con­cen­trated to a sin­gle geo­graph­i­cal lo­ca­tion, and the find­ings so far do not point to a poi­son­ing event,” she said.

“Some of the cases so far ex­am­ined in Perth have some par­al­lels with this con­di­tion (in the east­ern states) but in­ves­ti­ga­tions are on­go­ing to de­ter­mine if we are see­ing a sim­i­lar syn­drome.”

Test­ing is be­ing con­ducted by Perth Zoo and the Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment.

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