House Finch eye disease, Mycoplasmal conjunctivitis (MC) was first noticed in 1994 in the New England area. The disease later spread to states along the East Coast, and has now been reported throughout most of eastern North America, as far north as Quebec, Canada, as far south as Florida, and as far west as California.
Birds infected with this disease have swollen, red, runny, or crusty eyes. In extreme cases, the eyes become swollen shut and the bird becomes blind. While infected birds can recover, many die from starvation or predation.
Although infected bird’s symptoms show in the eyes, the disease is primarily a respiratory infection. It is caused by a strain of the MC bacterium, Mycoplasma gallisepticum. The bacterium poses no known health threat to humans.
MC has affected domestic turkeys and chickens for a long time. The disease also inflicts several other wild bird species including, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak.
There are treatments out there for this disease, however it is illegal to posses a wild bird. The best way to reduce the potential spread of MG and other feeder-bird diseases is to observe the following guidelines:
- Clean feeders and bird baths every two weeks with a 10 percent bleach solution.
- Use fresh seed, and keep the ground area around the feeder as clean as possible. During the summer, rake the area to remove accumulated seeds/shells under the feeder. During the winter, shovel fresh snow over the area.
- Use nonporous plastic, metal, or glass feeders that are easy to clean, and offer ample feeder space to reduce crowding.
- Keep platform feeders clean and only offer a day’s worth of seed.
© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl