Studying the evolution of virulence in bird disease, researchers discovered that virulence increases once a disease is established in an area. They suggest that evolution toward virulence is assisted by easy transmission around bird feeders.

Bird watchers can do their part to help House Finches and other backyard birds by washing their feeders in a 10 percent bleach solution twice a month.

Novel Disease in Songbirds Demonstrates Evolution in the Blink of a...

A novel disease in songbirds has rapidly evolved to become more harmful to its host on at least two separate occasions in just two decades, according to a new study. The research provides a real-life model to help understand how diseases that threaten humans can be expected to change in virulence as they emerge.

... when it gets established in a new location, there are lots of other potential hosts, especially around bird feeders. It can evolve toward being a nastier illness because it’s getting transmitted more quickly."

Tags: avian disease virulence, disfinfect bird feeders

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Good article Ruth!

I am totally supportive of cleaning bird/hummingbird feeders, and do it, but refuse to use bleach.

What do you use in place of bleach?

This mode of disease transmission is also common in deer herds in Michigan.  Hunters and fans of Bambie used to put out mounds of cracked corn - particularly in the winter - to attract deer.  This practice helped spread Bovine TB.  "The primary route of transmission is the exchange of respiratory secretions between infected and uninfected animals. This can be achieved through nose-to-nose contact or by the inhalation of aerosol droplets that have been exhaled by an infected animal. Animals may also become infected with M. bovis by ingesting the bacteria. This could occur by ingesting feeds that have been contaminated with M. bovis by other infected animals."  Michigan law now prohibits or restricts feeding deer.

http://www.michigan.gov/emergingdiseases/0,4579,7-186-25804-75601--...

Thanks! I will do that. The last thing I want is my feeders to become a place of spreading diseases. 

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