Mysterious illness kills 11,000 birds in West Germany amid Coronavirus crisis; will it affect humans?

Initial tests revealed that these birds have died due to a bacterial infection caused by Suttonella ornithocola

As the entire world is facing chaos due to the coronavirus outbreak, a mysterious illness that affects birds is now panicking people in West Germany. More than 11,000 dead birds, mostly blue tits have been found sick or dead in Germany, and it has prompted an investigation by environment conservation groups and scientists.

What caused the death of these birds?

blue tits
Blue tits Pixabay

German conservation group NABU revealed that major symptom observed among most of the ill birds was breathing trouble. These birds made no attempt to escape even when people approached them. The environment conservation group urged people to stop feeding or providing drinking troughs for birds to reduce the spread of this deadly infection.

Initial laboratory tests conducted on these dead birds revealed that they were infected with a bacteria named Suttonella ornithocola. It should be noted that this bacterial infection has been known in the United Kingdom since 1990, while in Germany, this infection was first observed in 2018.

How Suttonella ornithocola affect birds?

As per veterinary experts, Suttonella ornithocola usually triggers pneumonia in birds, especially blue tits. Birds infected with this bacteria will face severe breathing troubles, and they will also turn lethargic with fluffed-up plumage.

"The diseased birds are mostly observed in the vicinity of feeding points in gardens and stand out because they no longer react to their environment. It was observed that blue tits that died shortly afterward sat apathetically and fluffed up on the floor and made no attempt to escape when approaching people. Other symptoms of the disease are that the birds appear as if they have breathing problems, parts of the head plumage have failed, the eyes appear stuck together. They no longer take in food or apparently can no longer swallow," wrote NABU on their website.

Fortunately, until now, there are no reports of this bacterial infection affecting animals or humans apart from birds. The public has been now asked to inform authorities if they see any sick or dead blue tits in their vicinity.

Related topics : Coronavirus