PEI

Deadly finch parasite studied at AVC

A parasite is killing gold and purple finches in the Maritimes.

A parasite is killing gold and purple finches in the Maritimes.

Whitney Kelly-Clark wants to know how common the finch disease is becoming. (Sarah Keaveny-Vos/CBC)

Trichomoniasis was only recently recognized in finches in the region. The parasite attacks the mouths of the birds, causing canker sores that make eating and drinking impossible.

Whitney Kelly-Clark, a Masters student at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown, is studying the parasite. She's looking for help identifying cases of the disease. Kelly-Clark said infected birds can be identified by their appearance.

"They're really, really emaciated, very skinny. Their plumage is really ruffled up," she said.

Spotted a sick bird?

Contact the Canadian Co-operative Wildlife Health Centre: (902) 628-4314.

"What we actually see, and what is a tell-tale sign of the disease, is that they have a lot of bird feed and debris and sticks all kind of stuck around their beak and it's because these cankers make them regurgitate bird seed and it makes them drool a lot."

Humans and other mammals are immune to the disease, but farm birds such as turkeys and chickens can get infected, as can birds of prey.

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