Staten Island NYCHA residents file nearly 2,000 roach and bedbug complaints in first 9 months of 2019

Stapleton Houses

Stapleton houses shown on July 10, 2018. Data obtained from the New York City Housing Authority showed Stapleton had the highest number of bedbug and roach complaints of any development on Staten Island. (Staten Island Advance/Jan Somma-Hammel)

SILIVE | January 14, 2020 | by Paul Liotta

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Staten Islanders residing in developments operated by the New York City Housing Authority filed nearly 2,000 bedbug and roach complaints in the first nine months of last year.

NYCHA data obtained by the Legal Aid Society shows nearly 60,000 such complaints across the city in the same time period. On average, those complaints were closed within 10 days — something the Legal Aid Society’s Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit Judith Goldiner pointed to as good news.

To continue addressing the issue and others facing NYCHA tenants, Goldiner called for more funding for the authority, particularly on the state level.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore/South Brooklyn) has advocated for tenants with both city and federal officials. In March, she was accompanied by the regional director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Lynn Patton, for a tour of the New Lane Area and South Beach NYCHA developments.

“In the 2018-2019 State Budget, we invested $250 million to improve conditions at NYCHA including mold, lead, bug infestation,” Malliotakis wrote in an email Monday. “The real question is what is NYCHA doing with the money because we can’t keep throwing more money into a blackhole.”

Malliotakis, HUD head tour borough NYCHA buildings, call conditions a ‘national disaster’

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-East Shore-Staten Island) and Lynn Patton, regional head of Housing and Urban Development, visited the New Lane Senior Center in Rosebank on Friday, March 22, 2019. (Staten Island Advance/ Kristin Dalton)

State Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/Brooklyn) echoed Malliotakis’ concerns about NYCHA management. Neither elected official said whether they would heed the call for more state funding to the housing authority.

“My colleagues and I, year after year, led the charge for increased funding for NYCHA,” Savino said. “This is a continuous management problem — just like with mold and faulty pipes. NYCHA needs to take these quality of life and health issues more seriously.”

Assemblyman Michael Cusick (D-Mid-Island) said he believes the insect infestations are “emblematic of decades-old challenges facing the housing complexes.”

“While I am encouraged that NYCHA has decreased the time it takes to address these infestations, I will continue to support increased funding and accountability for NYCHA in Albany,” he said.

Up until Sept. 4, Staten Islanders residing in NYCHA developments filed 1,839 complaints, and had average wait times of about eight days. Of those complaints, 143 were for bedbugs, according to the data.

Both the Cassidy-Lafayette and South Beach NYCHA developments had high levels of bedbug complaints. Of the 119 complaints at Cassidy-Lafayette, 40 were for bedbugs. Of the 188 complaints at South Beach, 35 were for bedbugs.

The remainder of the borough’s NYCHA developments had the following numbers:

  • Berry — 169 complaints, 9 for bedbugs
  • Mariners Harbor — 176 complaints, 11 for bedbugs
  • New Lane Area — 102 complaints, 11 for bedbugs
  • Richmond Terrace — 187 complaints, one for bedbugs
  • Todt Hill — 189 complaints, 10 for bedbugs
  • West Brighton I & II — 205 complaints, 11 for bedbugs

State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) said he would consider increased state funding, but that NYCHA would first need to prove that management of its facilities is “on the right track.”

A NYCHA spokeswoman said their internal numbers show improvements to closed bedbug and roach work orders, and the time it takes to close bedbug orders, something she attributed to its new Integrated Pest Management system.

However, that system has also contributed to the increased wait time for roach complaints. Visits take longer, but result in fewer complaints due to increased prevention efforts, according to NYCHA.

Instead of simply spraying for roaches, exterminators are taking more care at developments by looking for holes, caulking and vacuuming. Bedbug wait times were not affected by these changes, because NYCHA treats them and rats as emergencies.

“NYCHA is working closely with the Federal Monitor on Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques and a Pest Action Plan, as per the January 2019 agreement,” NYCHA spokeswoman Rochel Leah Goldblatt said.

In January 2019, the city reached a deal with HUD that allowed the department to install a monitor overseeing NYCHA’s management and required the city to make an additional investment of $2 billion over five years.

City estimates have put NYCHA’s capital need just over $30 billion.

Assemblyman Charles Fall (D-North Shore) said financial support is needed from all levels of government.

“No one wants their mother, brother, or child living in the horrendous conditions that are described by NYCHA residents; nor should we as elected officials want this for our constituents,” Fall said.

“Furthermore, we must ensure that NYCHA is held accountable; meaning all funds must be allocated sensibly and utilized to dramatically transform the shameful living conditions residents continue to describe.”

Miami Ranked As A Top 50 City For Bed Bugs: Orkin

PATCH | January 13, 2020 | by Paul Scicchitano

Washington, D.C., ranked as the most bed bug-treated city in the country, according to Orkin.

Washington, D.C., ranked as the most bed bug-treated city in the country, according to Orkin. (Via Shutterstock)

MIAMI, FL — It’s the two words no homeowners want to hear: bed bugs. Orkin, the pest control and protection service, recently released its annual rankings of the 50 most bed bug-treated cities in the nation, and Miami finished in 32nd place.It’s good/bad news for our city as Miami improved from its 35th ranking on last year’s list. Tampa ranked 34th and Orlando ranked 36th.

The rankings were based on metro areas where Orkin performed the most bed bug treatments from Dec. 1, 2018, to Nov. 30, 2019. Both residential and commercial treatments were included.

For the last three years, Baltimore was the No. 1 city in the nation for bed bugs; but its nearby neighbor, Washington, D.C., took the top spot in 2020.

Here are the top 10 cities overall:

  • Washington, D.C.
  • Baltimore
  • Chicago
  • Los Angeles
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • New York
  • Detroit
  • Cincinnati
  • Indianapolis
  • Atlanta

“While bed bugs have not been found to transmit any diseases to humans, they can be an elusive threat to households,” said Chelle Hartzer, an Orkin entomologist who was referenced in a press release for the rankings. “They are excellent hitchhikers, and they reproduce quickly, which make it nearly impossible to prevent bed bugs.”

A description for the blood-sucking bugs on the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website sounds like something from a Stephen King novel: “parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep.”

The reddish-brown bugs are typically 4 to 5 millimeters in length, or the size of Abraham Lincoln’s head on a penny. The creatures are also known for multiplying incredibly quickly, as females can deposit one to five eggs a day in the right conditions.

Orkin provides a range of tips to prevent bed bugs from inhabiting your home.

  • Inspect your home for signs of bed bugs regularly. Check the places where bed bugs hide during the day, including mattress tags and seams, and behind baseboards, headboards, electrical outlets and picture frames.
  • Decrease clutter around your home to make it easier to spot bed bugs on your own or during professional inspections.
  • Inspect your residence regularly — when you move in, after a trip, when a service worker visits or after guests stay overnight.
  • Examine all secondhand furniture before bringing it inside your home. This is a common way for bed bugs to be introduced into homes.
  • Wash and dry your bed linens often, using the hottest temperature allowed for the fabric.

 

NYC public housing residents log 60,000 complaints for bedbugs and roaches

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS JAN 12, 2020  by Michael Gartland

The Grant Houses in Harlem had the most overall creepy crawler complaints with 981 — 877 of which were for roaches.

The Grant Houses in Harlem had the most overall creepy crawler complaints with 981 — 877 of which were for roaches. (New York Daily News Illustration)

Welcome to Bed Bug City.

Over the last two years, New York City Housing Authority residents filed approximately 200,000 complaints pleading for relief from bedbug and roach infestations, NYCHA data shows.

The Grant Houses in Harlem had the most overall creepy complaints over the first nine months of 2019 with 1,000 — 894 of which were for roaches.

The Pomonok Houses in Queens had the highest number of bedbug work orders during that period at 156. The Wagner Houses and Grant Houses didn’t trail far behind with 129 and 106 bedbug jobs for each complex respectively.

The Pomonok Houses in Queens had 156 bedbug cases - the most in the first first nine months of 2019.

The Pomonok Houses in Queens had 156 bedbug cases – the most in the first first nine months of 2019. (Theodore Parisienne/for New York Daily News) 

The statistics on roach and bedbug complaints between Jan. and Sept. 2019 came through a Freedom of Information request filed with NYCHA by the Legal Aid Society, which shared the data with the Daily News. The agency also shared data on insect complaints from 2018.

Tyrone Bell, tenant association president at the St. Nicholas Houses in Harlem, said people haven’t complained to him about bedbugs, but he wasn’t surprised that his complex had the 5th highest number of gripes, given other issues there like rats, mold and faulty elevators.

“There are plenty of problems,” he said. “This development needs a lot of work.”

Judith Goldiner, Legal Aid’s attorney-in-charge of civil law reform, described the number of infestation work orders as “troubling,” and cited it as just another reason she and others are calling on Albany to put $2 billion in additional funding toward NYCHA.

The Wagner Houses on First Ave. in Manhattan had 129 bedbug cases in the first nine months of last year.

The Wagner Houses on First Ave. in Manhattan had 129 bedbug cases in the first nine months of last year. (Andrew Savulich/New York Daily News)

The bug numbers were not all bad news though, according to Goldiner.

On average it took NYCHA about nine days to fully address the complaints — a detail she views as a good sign.

“This is a clear byproduct of more staff on the ground and resources,” she explained. “With the legislature now in session, we again call for increased funding for public housing authorities to address these problems and others facing tenants.”

A NYCHA spokeswoman pointed to a downward trend over the last two years when it comes to critter complaints, noting that the authority has hired 20 new exterminators over the last year.

Bedbug beefs dipped from 12,220 in 2018 to 10,343 in 2019; and closed work orders for roaches dipped from 87,400 in 2018 to 84,516 last year. The time it took, on average, to address bedbugs also went down from 13.3 days in 2018 to 9.7 days in 2019, but roach complaints took slightly longer in 2019, about a day more on average.

“Our trends show an improvement in closed bedbug and roach work orders,” said NYCHA spokeswoman Rochel Goldblatt. She noted that the longer times for roach remediation stem from NYCHA’s new Integrated Pest Management system, which places an emphasis on more than band-aid solutions.

Instead of spraying for roaches, exterminators are looking for holes, caulking and vacuuming,” she said. “The bedbugs weren’t affected by the above trend because we treat them like an emergency and try to schedule them as soon as possible. This was updated in our system in July 2019, making rats and bedbugs a higher priority.”

The advocates’ ask for more state cash — at the beginning of this Albany legislative session — is part of a broader push to increase NYCHA funding. Tenant advocates are also demanding a $1 billion increase in NYCHA funding in the city budget and a $6 billion increase on the federal level.

Fiscal hawks describe such outlays as ill-advised given NYCHA’s track record of wasteful spending.

“NYCHA hasn’t been fundamentally reformed,” said E.J. McMahon, research director for the Empire Center for Public Policy.

State Sen. Zellnor Myrie (D- Brooklyn) agreed, but only so much. He said NYCHA deserves blame for past fiscal mismanagement, but added that it doesn’t mean government should continue to underfund it.

He pointed out that $2 billion is just a fraction of the more than $30 billion NYCHA now needs.

“It would not meet the entire deficit,” he said.

Family sues Disney, says BED BUGS bit them at resort, then went home with them.

disney-s-all-star-movies-800x400Stock Daily Dish – December 3, 2019

A Louisiana couple is suing Disney, claiming they took home some unwanted souvenirs — bedbugs — that infested their home and traumatized their autistic son during their stay at the All-Star Movies Resort last year.

Ashley and Robert LaCombe filed the lawsuit that was transferred into Orlando federal court this week. The suit seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

A Disney spokeswoman did not comment specifically on the allegations other than the company would respond appropriately in court.

Ashley LaCombe, a commercial Realtor, and her husband, who runs a welding business, said they were on a five-day vacation in April 2018 when they began feeling itchy and red.

After they returned to their home in a parish north of New Orleans, they realized they had been bitten by “numerous” bedbugs, the lawsuit said.

The bedbugs bit them hundreds of times, leaving scars, said their New Orleans attorney Jennifer Greene.

The lawsuit says they ed Disney, and employees confirmed there were bedbugs in their hotel, a value resort near the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

“The bedbugs from the Disney Hotel traveled with the LaCombes on their luggage, clothing, and personal belongings, infesting their home in Louisiana,” the lawsuit said.

The LaCombes accused Disney of not disclosing there was a problem with bedbugs and not keeping the hotel free of infestations, according to the lawsuit first filed last year in U.S. District Court’s eastern Louisiana division.

The couple said they hired an exterminator to kill the bugs at their home, which forced them to find another place to stay. They threw away infected furniture and belongings and the couple also had to take time off work to deal with the situation. The stress also hurt their 5-year-old child, who has autism, the lawsuit said.

“The LaCombes experienced and continue to experience additional mental anguish and stress as they cannot enjoy their home,” according to the lawsuit. “Family members and friends cannot visit due to the risk of acquiring the bedbug infestation.”

The bugs are still a problem and returned even after the home has been fumigated, Greene said.

“It’s unfortunate for a family to deal with after going to the happiest place on Earth,” Greene said

Bedbugs a problem at OKC building that houses important state agencies

NEWS4 | by Chase Horn | November 21, 2019

OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For the past two months, the Oliver Hodge building, which houses the Oklahoma Department of Education, Office of Management and Enterprise Services, Oklahoma Teacher Retirement and the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, has been fighting off bedbugs.

An email detailing the situation to employees was shared with News 4.

The email was sent on September 25, letting employees know they were planning a broad-spectrum pest spray treatment for the entire building.

“You`re going to first go in and inspect and determine what kind of pest do I have here,” ABC Home & Commercial Operations Manager Clayton Schiegg told News 4. “Broad-spectrum will kill anything, be it bedbugs, roaches, ants.”

Two weeks later another email was sent to employees confirming that there were bed bugs in the building. Fighting bedbugs are routine for exterminators, but fighting them in a building that large is never easy.

“It’s difficult because you don`t know where they are coming from at that point,” Schiegg said. “Anyone visiting the building could be bringing re-infesting the building.”

Another concern when dealing with a building like the Oliver Hodge building, is the amount of people that come in and out of there on a daily basis.

“They are definitely hitchhikers. So they come in on a person’s beanie, a purse – just like I stated – backpacks,” Schiegg said. “You name it, they can hitchhike on those items.”

The Department did not want to go on camera, but did send News 4 this statement.

The State Department of Education has taken all appropriate precautions to address this situation. The Hodge building has been treated for pests multiple times in recent weeks, and an area of the building will be resprayed on Friday.

We have had visual confirmation of five bugs over the past several weeks, and recently two individuals have reported bites that may or may not be consistent with bedbugs. There is no evidence of an actual infestation.

We have been in constant contact with our landlord, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Facilities Management Division, which is in charge of pest control management and other building management issues.

Mom says bedbugs found at Hendersonville hospital

NEWS4 HENDERSONVILLE, TN (WSMV) – by Nancy Amons |October 22, 2019

Bedbugs in a hospital room?

One mother, who just had a baby in a Sumner County hospital, said bedbugs bit her 11-year-old daughter in the hospital’s labor and delivery suite.

The mom said the suite had a couch on it and she said that’s where she saw the bedbugs that she said bit her daughter.

Jamie Turner had just given birth to her third child on Oct. 16 at TriStar Hendersonville Hospital. That’s where she said she took a picture of a bedbug crawling on her 11-year-old daughter. She said the girl was sleeping on the couch in the same room where she had just given birth.

“I thought it was very disgusting to see the bugs there, period,” said Turner. “I just had a baby and that’s one of the things you wouldn’t think of to run across, to have bedbugs in the room with a newborn baby.”

You can see bumps in her 11-year-old daughter’s face. There are marks on her arm too.

“She was complaining about itching,” said Turner.

Bedbugs are hitchhikers. They can come into a room on luggage or on people. Experts say once you have them, they are hard to get rid of.

News4 sent pictures Turner shared with the PR Department with TriStar on Tuesday. TriStar provided a statement to News4 about the incident.

“We always strive to provide the best possible care in an environment that promotes healing and wellness, and we’re sorry that this patient was dissatisfied with her experience. Our staff are trained to follow established and effective cleaning and disinfection procedures, and we conduct routine checks to help ensure our rooms are up to our standards for cleanliness. When we became aware of this complaint, we immediately brought in an exterminator to assess and treat the room, though they reported finding no pests.”

Two bed bugs walked into a bar. Is that why Pelican Pub patrons got a rash?

Justine Griffin, Medical Reporter | 10/31/2019
VA_TechBB
This 2008 photo from the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology shows a female bed bug, right, and her offspring. Pinellas County health officials investigating a rash outbreak among patrons of the Pelican Pub found two bed bugs, one live and one dead, in the St. Petersburg bar. The insects, along with cleaning solutions used by the bar, are being investigated as possible causes of the rash. [Associated Press / Virginia Tech Department of Entomology]

It’s not common for bed bugs to be found in a bar, but it’s possible.

Health investigators were unsure if the insects were the culprits behind a mysterious skin rash contracted by dozens of people after theOcty visited the Pelican Pub in downtown St. Petersburg.

They found one live bed bug and one dead one when they followed up Tuesday after a viral Facebook post that prompted some 60 people to say they developed a rash after visiting the bar, which sits next to the Jannus Live concert venue. Pelican Pub closed for two days during the investigation, but announced it would reopen Halloween night.

Patrons described the rash as itchy, blotchy, painful, and lasting for weeks — sometimes months. Some say they still have scars. Health officials also noted that bar employees wiped down benches inside the pub with a sanitizer that “exceeded the maximum concentration allowed.” It’s unknown if those levels could have caused chemical skin reactions.

The health department usually finds bed bugs in luggage and upholstery, said spokeswoman Maggie Hall. A search of health complaints and inspection reports in Pinellas County shows no history of investigations into a bar or restaurant with bed bugs.

“According to our environmental health staff, it’s more about hiding places for bed bugs than about the surface,” Hall said. “The bench itself was actually some sort of composite surface and not wood. Bed bugs look for places to hide and there seemed to be an area under the bench where they found a suitable spot.”

Nearly all the patrons who complained were sitting in the same area of the pub — on a set of benches in a corner.

“Bed bugs won’t burrow into the wood like termites, but they’ll hide in the cracks and crevices,” said Brittany Campbell, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association. Campbell researched bed bug activity while completing her masters degree and doctorate.

“They actually like really rough surfaces. So rough wood, especially if it’s composite, would be preferable,” she said. “Studies show they prefer to hang out on unfinished wood instead of finished.”

Bed bugs feed on humans, and only require one “meal” every week or so. That’s why they tend to be found in mattresses or couches, where people sit or recline for long periods. They’re almost always found indoors.

“They are attracted to humans because they live almost exclusively on human blood,” Campbell said. “They can register our breath and our body heat. So that’s why when you’re sleeping and producing carbon dioxide, they’re attracted to you.”

Campbell said she “wasn’t surprised” to hear that bed bugs had turned up in a bar.

“They’ve been found in movie theaters, which makes sense since it’s dark and people sit for a long time. They’ve been in a Victoria’s Secret store, in libraries, just about anywhere,” she said. “They’re very good at hiding.”

It’s impossible to know where the Pelican Pub bed bugs came from, but Campbell said it’s likely someone already living with an infestation somewhere else unwittingly carried them into the bar. And all it takes to start an infestation is one pregnant bed bug. They are notorious for being hard to control, so Campbell recommends hiring a commercial pest control company to get rid of them.

“They are excellent hitchhikers,” she said. “Occasionally they get into people’s shoes, and they don’t even know it. So if someone was sitting on that bench and they were hungry, the bugs found a meal and hide thereafter.”

The owners of the pub said this week they hired a pest control company to do an inspection, and removed the benches where the affected patrons said they sat. The owners said the pub planned to reopen Thursday night with some bench-themed drink specials and celebrations.

“Our teams have been working around the clock to get the pub back up and running and we’re grateful to everyone’s hard work and patience,” pub owner Sean Knight said in a statement. “We’re ready to get back to what we do best, which is throwing great parties and having fun.”

 

Books Are Being Returned to the Hampton (NH) Library With Bed Bugs

Books_Bedbugs 
WOKQ | by Chio Acosta | October 28, 2019

Bed Bugs in Books, YIKES, Hampton Library May Ban Users.  What’s a librarian to do?  Well, first they disinfect and make sure the pests do not spread, then the books are discarded and a pest control agency is brought in to determine that the library is safe, but the broader question is how do they stop it from happening.  Seacoastonline reports on the issue that all libraries are facing and the steps the Hampton Library is taking to prevent the problem.

While bed bugs are not known to carry disease, they are creepy crawlies that leave bed bug poop everywhere, have an annoying little bite that looks like a rash and can trigger severe allergies.  None of those are good things.  Amanda Reynolds Cooper, the Lane Memorial Library director, says the library trustees will now be given a policy to approve that would require those that return books with bed bugs to obtain documentation that their homes are safe and bed bug-free before gaining admittance to the library.  This seems like a commonsense procedure but there are a lot of issues in play with this proposed policy.

Libraries are open to the public for good reasons and it’s a First Amendment issue to deny someone access.  Many people use the library for research into job opportunities, research into healthcare issues and these community hubs are not just for the storage of ideas.  Free public access makes libraries a safe space for learning.  What if you are homeless and looking for resources?  How can you claim your living space is “pest-free?”  It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out if the policy is approved.  Stay tuned, the trustees will meet to approve or not allow the policy on November 13 per reporting from seacoastonline.

 

Penn State Developing Poultry Bedbug Control

595fae945773a.image

Lancaster Farming | by Courtney Love, Philip Gruber |Oct 25, 2019

Penn State researchers are reformulating an exterminator spray to combat bedbugs in chicken houses.

Entomology professor Nina Jenkins started developing the biopesticide Aprehend in 2011 and, with her team, commercialized the product in 2017.

The product was originally meant for places like homes and hotels, where bedbugs can be a hard-to-kill nuisance.

Jenkins spoke about the project in an Oct. 8 call with PennAg Industries Association.

When they hitchhike into poultry houses, bedbugs bite the chickens to drink their blood. In heavy infestations, the birds may experience feather loss, lesions and anemia.

Bedbugs are tricky to manage because they can feed on many animals, including rodents, and they are developing resistance to common pyrethroid insecticides.

“You only need one to survive to re-establish,” Jenkins said.

Aprehend is not a pyrethroid. It is an oil-based spray that contains Beauveria bassiana, a fungus that infects the bedbug’s blood system and kills it. The fungus spreads readily among bedbugs but does not infect humans.

The product, available only to licensed pest control operators, works in dark, undisturbed household settings for up to three months.

Poultry buildings don’t provide such ideal conditions.

“It’s going to be an issue with feather dust and dander,” Jenkins said.

Before Aprehend can get to poultry houses, Machtinger and Jenkins need to secure funding. The product must also go through the Environmental Protection Agency’s approval process, which could take 18 months.

Aprehend would be just one part of a broader integrated pest management approach to bedbugs.

Poultry houses should have dedicated worker clothing that is run through a dryer, washed in hot water and then dried again.

Workers should also have designated shoes for poultry house use and practice good biosecurity, said Gregory Martin, a Penn State Extension educator.

Study: Nearly a Third of U.S. Bald Eagles Infected With Newly Discovered Virus

EagleU.S. NEWS | By Cecelia Smith-Schoenwalder | Oct. 21, 2019

NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF THE bald eagles in the United States are infected with a previously unknown virus, according to new research.

The study, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports on Friday, tested 47 eagles from 19 states and found that 32% of them had the newly identified virus, called bald eagle hepacivirus.

“This study has opened our eyes to glaring knowledge gaps about infection in a species of great national importance,” Tony Goldberg, lead study author and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said in a statement. “It’s a more complicated story than we thought it might be at first, but that makes it more interesting.”

While not deadly, the newly identified disease could be contributing to a separate, fatal disease that has been causing declines in the bird’s populations. Wisconsin River Eagle Syndrome was first described in the 1990s, when observers spotted birds staggering and vomiting. They eventually died from the syndrome or were euthanized.

It is unclear what the link between the two diseases could be, if there is one. Birds outside of Wisconsin that didn’t have the fatal syndrome were still diagnosed with the newly identified virus.

“This study is another piece of the puzzle,” Sean Strom of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said in a statement. “Hopefully we can find more pieces and figure out what is happening.”

Despite being the U.S.’s national symbol, bald eagles have had a rough history in the country. Hunting, pesticide poisoning and habitat loss decimated populations in the 20th century. As few as 412 nesting pairs were in the U.S. at the population’s lowest point.

Strict regulations and the banning of DDT, a pesticide that caused the bird’s egg shells to become too thin, recovered populations to the point that the bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list in 2007.

Despite improved protections, bald eagles are still falling victim to poison. In March, seven bald eagles and one great horned owl were found dead in Maryland. Officials said they were likely unintentionally poisoned with a banned pesticide, carbofuran. The deaths came roughly three years after 13 bald eagles were found dead in the area under similar circumstances. Officials said they were “disappointed and frustrated” at the continued poisonings

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