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Reports of sick birds continue in Washington after call to remove feeders

Salmonellosis, a fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella bacteria, is killing birds in Washington state.

Wildlife officials are asking people across Washington state to keep bird feeders down until at least April 1 as reports of sick birds continue.

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) first asked residents to remove or clean feeders in February in response to a die-off of finches and other songbirds. 

The cause was found to be salmonellosis, a fatal bird disease caused by the salmonella bacteria.

Discontinuing the use of feeders will not starve birds, because birds use natural food sources year round, even when using backyard feeders, according to wildlife officials. 

RELATED: Hummingbird feeders should also be removed to prevent bird disease

If feeders are not removed, WDFW asks people to clean them on a daily basis by rinsing them with soapy water and dunking them in a solution with nine parts water and one part bleach. 

It is possible for salmonella bacteria to transfer from birds to humans through direct contact with birds, droppings, or domestic animals that catch birds.

Birds infected with salmonellosis become lethargic, fluff out their feathers and are easy to approach, according to WDFW. Officials say the best course of action is to leave the birds alone and report sick and dead birds using the agency's online reporting tool.

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