Rainbow lorikeets are falling victim to a mystery virus that is leaving birds paralysed on the Coffs Coast.
Rainbow lorikeets are falling victim to a mystery virus that is leaving birds paralysed on the Coffs Coast.

Mystery bird ‘virus’ being studied after outbreak

A MYSTERY illness is striking down native birds, paralysing lorikeets and rosellas on the Coffs Coast.

WIRES reports that a few months ago, rainbow lorikeets were first found paralysed from the head down in the Sapphire area.

The birds were unable to move their legs and body, but still had the use of their heads, beaks and eyes.

The infected birds were found struggling on the ground and using their beaks to pull themselves along.

WIRES Northern area bird coordinator Barbara Lange said she originally suspected poisoning, as the birds all came from the one area.

"However, similarly affected birds are now being found in Corindi, Woolgoolga and the roosting colony in the Coffs Harbour CBD," Ms Lange said.

"There are now reports of paralysis affecting birds in the Grafton area and the same symptoms also appearing in scaly-breasted lorikeets and eastern rosellas.

The WIRES Bird Team is asking the community if they find any of these affected native birds to call them.

"Alternatively, being careful to not touch any part of the bird with your bare hands," Ms Lange said.

"If you find a ill bird you can gently wrap the bird in a thick towel and place it in a ventilated cardboard box to avoid being bitten and then take it to the nearest vet for assessment.

She said WIRES is also advising residents with pet birds to keep them totally separate from any wild birds.

"We also ask that you take extra care with hygiene around your pet birds as this is possibly a virus affecting the neurological system and may be contagious," she said.

"We are asking members of the public to take all the necessary precautions if you come in contact with an affected bird to help prevent the possibility of any spread of this disease into the wider bird community.

The WIRES hotline is on 1300 094 737.