The City of Mesquite has confirmed that more than 50 duck deaths at various Mesquite parks during the past few weeks is being caused by a duck virus also known as Duck Enteritis Virus, aka duck plague, Anatid herpes, Eendenpest, Entenpest and Peste du canard.
The public is not at risk, as the disease is shared only between ducks and other waterfowl. This disease will run its course among the ducks, as there are no effective treatments available.
Samples of deceased ducks from City Lake Park were sent to the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic laboratory for testing. The report indicated the presence of the virus. The virus is typically wide spread and the City anticipates additional loss of ducks over the next few weeks.
Public health professionals, including the National Wildlife Health Center, confirm this type of waterfowl disease creates no evidence of human risk.
Duck Enteritis virus is an acute, highly contagious disease of ducks, geese, and swans of all ages, characterized by sudden death, high mortality (particularly among older ducks), and hemorrhages and necrosis in internal organs.
Members of the family Anatidae (ducks, geese, and swans) are the natural hosts for the virus. There are differences in susceptibility to the virus, with Muscovy ducks being the most susceptible.
The virus is mainly transmitted by direct contact from infected to susceptible ducks or by indirect contact with a contaminated environment. Water seems to be a natural route of viral transmission. Outbreaks are frequent in duck flocks with access to bodies of water cohabited with free-living waterfowl.
The virus can live for weeks under certain conditions. This is usually seen in pond settings during the April to June breeding season.
The incubation period is 3–7 days. Sudden high and persistent mortality is often the first sign of the disease. Mortality varies and can be 5%–100%, depending on virulence of the infecting viral strain. Adult ducks usually die in higher proportions than young ones, increasing the economic significance of the disease. Sick birds are unable to stand and show indication of weakness and depression. Photophobia, inappetence, extreme thirst, droopiness, ataxia, nasal discharge, soiled vents, and watery or bloody diarrhea may be seen.
If the public is witness to any distressed animal at City parks, they are asked to contact the City using its 24-hour Utility Dispatch phone number 972-216-6278. For health and safety precautions, the City reminds the public not to handle any injured or deceased wildlife at any park, at any time.