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Avian pox may be in Yuma
A malady known as avian pox has possibly infected a hummingbird in Yuma, according to Arizona Game and Fish.
Avian pox does not infect humans but is highly contagious among birds, wild and domestic. There's really no treatment for wild birds so it's often fatal for them, although captive birds, like chickens and other livestock, can be treated.
“It's not very common, but it's out there,” said Chris Bedinger, spokesman at Yuma's Arizona Game and Fish office.
Although the name may be similar, avian pox is not avian flu, which affects birds and humans, or chicken pox, a common human disease that in fact has nothing to do with chickens.
The disease can be transmitted by mosquito bites, direct bird-to-bird contact, food and water contaminated by sick birds (or carcasses) or contamination of shared surfaces, such as feeders and perches.
Bedinger recommended removing standing water, such as birdbaths, and common areas that draw birds such as feeders. Contaminated surfaces can be cleaned with a bleach solution.
According to the National Wildlife Health Center, the disease is seen among upland game birds, songbirds, marine birds and the parrot family, raptors occasionally and, rarely, waterfowl. Emergence of the disease in North America has been relatively recent.
A bird with avian pox will show wart-like lesions on its non-feathered areas, such as the legs, feet and around the beak and eyes. Lesions can also develop inside the mouth and other areas in the upper digestive and respiratory tracts. Lesions can interfere with breathing, feeding and sight.
Bedinger recommended at least keeping an eye out for birds with wart-like growths, and people who spot a sick bird can report it to Game and Fish. They can also bring the bird in to the agency, if the animal can be captured.
Hillary Davis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6857. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSHillaryDavis or on Twitter at @YSHillaryDavis.