Rescue group trying to save birds sickened after algae bloom - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Rescue group trying to save birds sickened after algae bloom

On Monday, Wild At Heart Rescue picked up 14 birds. Despite attempts to save them, nine have already died. (Photo source: WLOX) On Monday, Wild At Heart Rescue picked up 14 birds. Despite attempts to save them, nine have already died. (Photo source: WLOX)
HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

The fight is on to save birds that got sick as a result of an algae bloom. Dozens of them have been found dead on several local beaches. And for those that survived, keeping them alive is an uphill battle. On Monday, Wild At Heart Rescue picked up 14 birds. Despite attempts to save them, nine have already died. 

Monday was a busy day for Wild At Heart Rescue. Calls kept coming in from people coming across sick birds on beach. Kayla Zastrow was among those who reported a sick bird. 

"They're just itty bitty. They don't know better. They don't know what's going on. So it's rough on them because we can't really inform them that there's something wrong." 

What's wrong is an algae bloom caused by Mother Nature. 

"It starts at the bottom at a plankton level or microbial level where this bloom creates this poison," said Douglas Pojeky with Wild At Heart Rescue. "It deadens the water and all the nutrients and they become toxic. Then it's just a chain cycle where the smaller thing gets eaten and then something bigger, bigger, bigger until we get up to these birds." 

The treatment includes flushing the birds' systems with fluids to try to get them re-hydrated. A veterinarian said the toxin affects different animals differently, but in birds, it paralyzes the nerves that allow them to breath. 

Dr. James Askew said, "Seeing at how it is a nerve toxin, we can try to calm down the nerve membrane to try to keep them from suffering any side effects. Basically a lot of tender, love and care and some things to take the pain and inflammation away." 

Even if the birds the survive, the risk of illness isn't over. 

"Some of these toxins will actually be stored in the system. If they survive the initial event and it gets stored in the fat stores of the body. What it means is if something else were to eat that bird, then that animal could get sick again as well," said Dr. Askew. 

Wild At Heart said so far they've picked up nearly 40 sick birds since Saturday. Officials say there have been hundreds of others found dead. If you see a distressed bird, please call Wild at Heart at (228) 669-7907.

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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