Seeing sick or dead birds in your neighborhood? Seasonal parasite may be to blame

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Arizona Game and Fish Department and local bird rehabilitation center Liberty Wildlife say a disease called trichomoniasis is spreading around the bird population. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Arizona Game and Fish Department and local bird rehabilitation center Liberty Wildlife say a disease called trichomoniasis is spreading around the bird population. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Pigeons and doves most commonly affected, as well as the birds who eat them like hawks and owls. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Pigeons and doves most commonly affected, as well as the birds who eat them like hawks and owls. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Neither you nor your pets can catch it, but the disease is very contagious for birds. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Neither you nor your pets can catch it, but the disease is very contagious for birds. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
The disease is also known as "cancker." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) The disease is also known as "cancker." (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -

Sick and dead birds are seeming to fall out of the sky in neighborhoods around the Valley.

Arizona Game and Fish Department and local bird rehabilitation center Liberty Wildlife say a disease called trichomoniasis, also known as "Canker," has been making its rounds.

Neither you nor your pets can catch it, but the disease is very contagious for birds. A lot of times it's spread through the birdfeeders and birdbaths we put out in our own back yards.

It's caused by a microscopic parasite creating painful lesions inside the bird’s mouth.

"It’s definitely not a pleasant experience for these birds because they get the lesions. They have trouble swallowing. They have trouble breathing," said Laura Hackett with Liberty Wildlife.   

Many birds ultimately die of starvation.

Warm weather and baby bird season mean more cases.

"It's something we see every year, and we call it 'canker season,'" said Hackett.

Most of the birds coming into the Liberty Wildlife Center right now have it.

"We'll get at least into the hundreds," she said.

Pigeons and doves most commonly affected, as well as the birds who eat them like hawks and owls.

"If you can catch it, the best thing to do is to get it to a wildlife rehabilitation center like Liberty Wildlife so we can assess it and treat it,” said Hackett.

She recommends leaving the capture and transport of the larger raptor birds to the experts.

Once at the center, a course of medicine clears it up.

"Usually within a week or two he can get placed within the general population again,” said Hackett.  

There is a way to stop it. Experts recommend sterilizing your birdfeeders and birdbaths with a bleach solution every day if you can to kill the parasite.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Lauren ReimerLauren Reimer joined the 3TV/CBS 5 family in June 2016. She is originally from Racine, WI but is no stranger to our heat.

Click to learn more about Lauren.

Lauren Reimer

She previously worked for KVOA in Tucson, covering topics that matter to Arizonans including the monsoon, wildfires and border issues. During the child migrant crisis of 2014, Reimer was one of only a handful of journalists given access to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention facility in Nogales, where hundreds of unaccompanied children were being held after crossing into the U.S. from Central America. Before that, Reimer worked at WREX in Rockford, IL. Lauren is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee and still visits home often. When not chasing news stories, Reimer loves to explore, enjoying everything from trying new adventurous foods to visiting state and national parks or local places of historical significance.

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