Botulism...Or Is It?
Keywords:Botulism, Clostridium botulinum–Type C, Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB), microcystins, avian toxicoses, Poplar Island MD, blue–green algae (Cyanobacteria), phycotoxins, cyanotoxins
In August 2012, during routine surveys of Poplar Island, MD, shorebirds and ducks were found in varying stages of paralysis. Some birds were ‘wing walking,’ others could barely hold up their heads, some had lost function of the nictitans, and many more were dead. These clinical signs, combined with the location, climate, and water conditions, were highly suggestive of avian botulism. As biologists from the US Fish & Wildlife Service teamed with the MD state wildlife veterinarian, Maryland Environmental Service, and staff and volunteers from Tri–State Bird Rescue & Research to capture and care for the affected birds, laboratory tests suggested something besides botulism might be present. This presentation describes the combined efforts of these groups and six separate laboratories to unravel the mystery of this epornitic and to provide treatment to those birds rescued live.
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