Lorikeet paralysis syndrome has killed hundreds of birds in across Australia.
Experts say the disease spreads when the birds gather in large numbers
It paralyses the birds until they suffocate or are eaten by ants or predators
Experts warned people not to feed the birds to slow the spread of the virus.
Hundreds of rainbow lorikeets have been paralysed and killed by a mysterious disease that is spreading at an alarming rate.
The disease, known as lorikeet paralysis syndrome or clenched-foot syndrome, has left birds immobile on the sidewalks of suburban Brisbane, where they die horrific deaths.
Darryl Jones from Griffith University explained the disease spreads similar to the C-virus through close contact in the community.
Experts said the newly discovered lorikeet paralysis syndrome has killed hundreds of birds this season.
Pictured are some of the 24 birds found dead under a single tree in Brisbane.
‘They fight each other like crazy and when they are biting and breathing on each other they spread the virus,‘ he said.
‘It’s very much like the corona itself, it’s brand new and we don’t know much about it and it seems to be happening where the birds are gathering in large numbers.‘
Professor Jones said lorikeet paralysis syndrome slowly spreads through the body of the beloved Australian bird until their lungs seize and they suffocate.
‘It starts in the feet so when they try and land on a branch they can’t hold on and then they just fall to the ground and within an hour they die,‘ he said.
Professor Jones said initially experts feared lorikeets were being devoured alive by ants and predators but in most cases paralysis has killed the bird beforehand.
He said Brisbane was currently the ‘epicentre’ for the new disease that was only discovered three years ago.
‘The largest number seems to be in Brisbane but I’ve had about ten emails from people in Melbourne, Sydney and Rockhampton all describing exactly the same thing so it really might be much more widespread,‘ Professor Jones said.
‘It’s incredibly alarming there are hundreds of birds dying in a horrible way right no – I’ve been sent images of 24 birds under one tree all dead.‘
Although there is little research on why the birds have been dying, veterinary reports have pointed towards foreign plants mutating in certain climate conditions.
‘The vets have put it down to foraging resources and strangely it seems the African Tulip Tree may be one of the things responsible,‘ Professor Jones said.
Professor Jones encouraged people not to feed lorikeets for the foreseeable future as it would increase the spread of the disease by gathering the birds close together.
‘There is a vast amount of natural food available so the lorikeets do not need our food so,‘ he said.
‘I would recommend not feeding them right now for the welfare of the bird -at least for the moment.‘
A similar mysterious lung illness is also killing thousands of birds in Germany: