Scientists say they’ve received about 10 unconfirmed reports of a contagious disease affecting birds in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick so far this year.
Pathologist Megan Jones of the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative says trichomonosis has been around for a while in other bird species, but they’ve only started seeing it in Atlantic Canadian birds – purple finches and American goldfinches, for the most part – since 2007.
The disease is caused by a microscopic parasite that infects the bird’s mouth and throat, which can make it difficult for them to breathe, eat and swallow.
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Afflicted birds typically are reluctant to fly away and have moisture on the feathers around their beak and chest, with crusted food material around their beaks.
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The disease is mostly transmitted through food and water, and Jones suggests people regularly clean their bird feeders.
She suggests that people who see sick or dead birds contact her organization so they can continue tracking the disease.