Migratory birds don't typically carry diseases that can be dangerous to humans, but a new study has revealed that ticks carried by birds can be infected with Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic fever. According to Medical Xpress, more than 14,000 birds of 30 different species were studied as possible vectors for transmission of the disease, and the woodchat shrike was found to carry infected ticks during its migration.
This study is only the first step in learning how the disease's boundaries have expanded, and there is not yet evidence that ticks brought by birds have infected any humans. Still, birders should always be cautious and not handle wild birds, and dead birds should be reported to wildlife officials. If it is not needed for study, the dead bird should be disposed of properly so any risk of infection is minimized.
How do you protect yourself when you've cleaned your bird feeders or handled wild birds? Share your tips in the comments!
Photo © Markel Olano