| 1.3°C Dublin

Killer disease wiping out our garden birds

IRELAND'S garden birds are under attack from a virulent disease that is killing them in several counties.

Finches, sparrows and other species are being hit by the 'trichomonas gallinae' infection that prevents them from eating and drinking.

West Dublin and North County Dublin are among the areas hit by the outbreak.

Birdwatch Ireland spokesman Niall Hatch told the Herald: "The recent outbreak has been nasty in Co Kildare where over 100 birds were found with the disease in just one garden.

"When it occurred in 2005, it was particularly virulent. A couple of very cold winters froze the ground water which stopped it. But following the wet summer last year, the ground has been very moist which encouraged the disease to spread," he said.

The numbers of sick birds has been increasing this winter. Greenfinches have been hardest hit by the disease.

Birdwatch Ireland said there is no cure but it is not fatal in all cases and some birds may recover. It is not harmful to humans.

Birds suffering from the disease appear lethargic and will sit in one spot for long periods.

To prevent the spread of the disease, people are advised to regularly clean bird feeders and baths, and to let them air dry.