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SINCE 2003 there has been a marked increase in the number of outbreaks of botulism in cattle and sheep diagnosed by the Veterinary Laboratories Agency (VLA) throughout England and Wales (Hogg and others 2008). The reason for this increase is not fully understood, but in a high proportion of these cases the disease appears to have been caused by animals coming into contact with the litter of broiler chickens. Broiler litter is a useful source of nitrogenous fertiliser but there is the potential for botulism to occur in animals that come into contact with it, especially if it contains any carcase material. Animals have become affected through direct access to litter when it has been heaped or spread in the field where they are grazing, and indirectly from litter on a neighbour's premises, possibly as the result of carcases being moved by scavenging birds and …
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