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Salem Pond Advisory

August 17, 2015 --

Avian Botulism Affects Bird on Salem Pond

Recently a number of ducks were found sickened or dead in or around Salem Pond. Water samples were taken and duck tissues were biopsied. This was done to identify the cause of the duck deaths as well as to determine if there was any human health hazards. Finalized reports show the death of these ducks was attributed to Avian Botulism type C.

What is Avian Botulism?

  • Botulism is a paralytic condition brought on by the consumption of a naturally occurring toxin produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum.
  • Avian botulism is found in anaerobic (low oxygen) environments, such as pond sediments.
  • Botulism has increased dramatically in recent years, taking a heavy toll on migratory waterfowl.

Human Health Considerations:

  • Disease in humans has not been associated with type C botulinum toxin. Nevertheless, the public should be advised to thoroughly cook game meat, including fish, and avoid contact with sick and dead animals as a routine precaution during an outbreak.

 Wildlife and Domestic Animal Significance:

  • Water birds are the primary group of wild birds affected by avian botulism type C. However, secondary exposure to the toxin in scavenging species has also been documented. Botulism mortality events in water birds can be large, killing hundreds to thousands of waterfowl and other birds during a single mortality event. Pheasants, poultry, and waterfowl are the most frequently affected groups of captive and domestic birds impacted by botulism type C; cattle, horses, and mink are also susceptible. Additionally, dogs can become ill from ingesting carcasses or maggots that harbor the toxin.

Disease Control and Biosecurity:

  • Collection and disposal of carcasses by burial or incineration is recommended to reduce the availability of substrates for bacterial proliferation and toxin production and to minimize secondary exposure to scavengers. As a routine precaution when handling any sick or dead birds, personal protective equipment including gloves, rubber boots, disposable or cloth coveralls, and thorough handwashing are recommended.

What Can Park Visitors Do?

If you see any dead birds around or in the water, please do not attempt to remove them yourself.

  1. Please call one of the following:
    Salem City Animal Control Services at (801) 423-2312
    Utah Valley Dispatch (801) 794-3970
  2. Please do not feed the ducks or birds around Salem Pond including Knoll Park.
  3. Please don't handle the birds, and do not let children or pets play with the birds.
  4. For additional information on this disease please visit: http://www.nwhc.usgs.gov/publications/field_manual/chapter_38.pd

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