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House Finch Eye Disease Spreads into Walnut Creek Area

If you see finches with red, puffy, crispy eyes at your feeders and backyard baths, shoot them down, say officials at Lindsay Wildlife Rehabilitation Hospital.

Officials said the hospital saw more cases than usual of the highly contagious eye disease of the House Finch, which can cause blindness in finches and some other birds, and the birds come from the whole region.

The best way to prevent the spread is to temporarily remove the feeders and baths where the disease is observed.

"The type of conjunctivitis is very contagious," said Aireo Shipman, director of the Lindsay Wildlife Hospital. "Feeders and bird baths concentrate a large number of birds. So they get together and the disease is transmitted quickly. "

Shipman says that when infected birds are identified in a feeder or bath, they must be slaughtered and the spilled seeds picked up. "Then the birds will go back foraging normally and this will greatly reduce the risk of other birds contracting the disease," Shipman said. "The birdbaths must also be cleaned and cleaned."

In extreme cases, the disease can cause blindness in birds. The infection is caused by the bacterium Mycoplasma gallisepticum, which is common in turkeys and domestic chickens. It was first observed in domestic finches in 1994, and the disease spread to American Goldfinches, Black Grosbeaks and Purple Finches.

Lindsay treated 74 cases in 2017 and only 21 last year. But so far this year, 80 birds with the disease have been brought to the center of Walnut Creek.

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