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ANOTHER Avian Die Off, Kentucky
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Hello Jeff - Here again, another mass die-off which included red winged blackbirds and starlings in addition to grackles.
This time, we get the soft sell that bird deaths are not uncommon in the US. That may well be true but the deaths are usually do to toxins, parasites or bacteria like E Coli. This is very unsettling and a cause for concern.  
Date: 5 Jan 2010 Source: MSNBC 
It Isn't Easy Being A Bird
In the 1st place, New Year's Eve [31 Dec 2010] fireworks were blamed  in central Arkansas for making thousands of blackbirds confused,  crashing into homes, cars and each other. Then 300 miles to the south  in Louisiana, power lines likely killed about 450 birds, littering a  highway near Baton Rouge.
On Wednesday [5 Jan 2010], Kentucky wildlife officials said several  hundred grackles, red wing blackbirds, robins and starlings were  found dead last week in the western part of the state.
It's almost certainly a coincidence the events happened within days  of each other, Louisiana's state wildlife veterinarian Jim LaCour  said Tuesday. "I haven't found anything to link the 2 at this point."
Mass bird deaths aren't uncommon. The U.S. Geological Service's  website listed about 90 mass deaths of birds and other wildlife from  June 2010 through 12 Dec 2010. There were 5 mass deaths of at least  1000 birds, with the largest near Houston, Minnesota, where parasite  infestations killed about 4000 water birds between 6 Sep 2010 and 26 Nov 2010.
Officials acknowledged, though, they may never know exactly what  caused the large number of deaths.
Wildlife officials in both Arkansas and Louisiana sent carcasses to  researchers at the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison,  Wisconsin, and the University of Georgia. Results are not expected  for 2 weeks or longer.
E. coli? -------- In 1999, several thousand grackles fell from the sky and staggered  about before dying in north Louisiana. It took 5 months to get the  diagnosis: an E. coli infection of the air sacs in their skulls.
"I hope things go faster than that," said Paul Slota, branch chief  for the National Wildlife Health Center in Madison, Wisconsin. He  said necropsies of the Arkansas birds began Tuesday afternoon.
"If it isn't strictly trauma, it may take more time to get results  back," he said. "When nothing shows up, you run the tests longer and  let it incubate longer."
Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources spokesman Mark  Marraccini says someone called police about the discovery in  Kentucky, and they alerted state officials.
Marraccini says tests performed on the birds ruled out diseases or  poisons. He said the deaths could have been caused by weather or  another natural event.
Communicated by: ProMED-mail Rapporteur Mary Marshall
The interactive HealthMap/ProMED map for Kentucky is available at:  http://healthmap.org/r/008w - CopyEd.EJP
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics Univ of West Indies Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: http://www.emergingdisease.org/phpbb/index.php Also my new website: http://drpdoyle.tripod.com/ Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve  neither liberty nor safety."  - Benjamin Franklin
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