Botulism found in poultry production


<div>Birds at a poultry farm in Western Finland have been found to have fallen ill with botulism caused by botulinum neurotoxin. The incidence is the second this year in Finland. As by the previous farm, the current disease case was confirmed to be one of type C botulism. Initially, the contaminated flock was treated with drugs, but as the birds did not improve, they were killed by considerations of animal welfare and forwarded to destruction. </div>

On a global basis, mass diseases caused by Clostridium botulinum bacteria among poultry occasionally occur. For example, some ten cases have transpired in Sweden, the actual cause of which is not known. Generally, these cases of poultry botulism have been of type C. This type of toxin is not known to have caused illnesses among people.

Spores of C. botulinum bacteria generally appear in the soil and in water systems, and also in the intestines of healthy birds. Spore forms of the bacteria particularly are resilient. In anoxic environments of appropriate temperature, the spores develop into vegetative bacteria able to produce neurotoxins. These toxins cause disease among animals. Animals may get toxins from contaminated feed, or when spores start germinating in the intestines of the animals, e.g. in connection with some abnormal situation. Contagious spreading of the disease from one farm to another does not occur. Hence, it is not listed as an officially combated animal disease, as are for example, many contagious virus diseases. The factors in poultry production that create predispositions for botulism are not known.

In Finland, botulism among animals is infrequent. Objectives are to prevent it by using good production methods at farms.

Additional information on botulism at Evira’s web site (in Finnish):>eläintauti- ja elintarviketutkimus>eläintautitutkimus>riista ja luonnonvaraiset eläimet>botulismi

Additional information:
Evira, poultry diseases: Senior Researcher Laila Rossow, tel. 020 77 24542, 050 544 1953
Evira, animal disease surveillance: Senior Veterinary Officer Sirpa Kiviruusu tel. 020 77 24216, 0400 920 503
Helsinki University, Botulism Research:, Docent Miia Lindström, tel. (09) 191 57107, 040 520 36

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