Friday, August 15, 2014

Botulism C Confirmed in Grand Traverse Bay

botulism molecule
botulism molecule (public domain)

from a news release of Michigan DNR

The Department of Natural Resources recently diagnosed type C botulism in wild waterfowl along the East Arm of Grand Traverse Bay. During the last week of July, dead mallards were collected and sent to the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab in Lansing, Michigan, for testing, and just recently the lab confirmed the disease.

"As of Aug. 4, approximately two dozen mallards had been found dead from type C botulism," said DNR wildlife biologist and pathologist Tom Cooley.

Botulism is a condition brought on by ingesting a naturally occurring toxin produced by bacteria found in the bottom sediments of water bodies. Because the water levels in the Great Lakes are higher this year than the past several years, water is currently on mudflats that had been previously exposed, and because the water depth is shallow, the anaerobic conditions necessary for the bacteria to grow are established. In the case of type C botulism, dabbling ducks or other shore birds feeding in the sediment can be susceptible to the die-off.

Fortunately, type C botulism is not an immediate risk to humans, although pets, including dogs, could acquire the toxin if they were to eat a dead bird.

"Any dead birds that are on the shoreline need to be picked up and disposed of properly. Any dead or dying birds that are found along the south shore of Grand Traverse Bay should be reported to the local Traverse City DNR office at 231-922-5280, ext. 6832. Please provide information on the location, type and number of birds.

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