Sick or dead Rainbow Lorikeets around Melbourne
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries is calling on Melbourne residents to avoid feeding wild birds following reports that it could be assisting the spread of bacteria among native parrot populations. Since March 2012, there have been over 200 reported sick or dead Rainbow lorikeets (Trichoglossus haematodus) in the eastern and north-eastern suburbs of Melbourne.
What is the cause?
Advice from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries is that the most likely cause is an overgrowth of a type of bacterium (Clostridium species) in the bird’s digestive system, due to an inappropriate diet. Sick birds have shown signs such as diarrhoea, vomiting, regurgitation and lethargy. The disease is spread through droppings from sick birds and a single sick bird can easily pass it on to healthy birds congregating at feed sites.
What is the government doing about it?
The Department of Environment and Primary Industries and the University of Melbourne Faculty of Veterinary Science are investigating the illness. Tests have ruled out other possible diseases, such as avian influenza, Newcastle disease, pigeon paramyxovirus, salmonellosis and psittacosis.
What can I do to help?
Supplementary or hand feeding of wild birds may actually endanger healthy birds. Therefore the public are advised not to provide any supplementary food to wild birds. Rainbow Lorikeets have a simple digestive system that is well suited to their natural diet of native flowering plants and insects. There is also sufficient food in the environment for wild birds and therefore they do not require supplementary feeding.
Disposing of dead birds and hygiene
The public are advised to be cautious when handling sick or dead birds as they could pose a health risk to people. Dead birds should be double bagged, taking care not to touch the bird, and disposed of in the rubbish bin. People should always wash their hands thoroughly with soap and also alcohol wipes after handling dead or sick birds.
For more information or to report cases
For more information, please visit the Department of Environment and Primary Industries.
To report cases of sick or dead lorikeets, please contact Wildlife Health Surveillance Victoria on 0400 119 301.