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Animal welfare
Suspected avian botulism outbreaks in wild waterbirds
  1. Paul Duff1,
  2. Susan Neale1,
  3. Ruth Cromie2,
  4. Malcolm Kerr3 and
  5. Richard Irvine4
  1. 1APHA Diseases of Wildlife Scheme, Penrith Veterinary Investigation Centre, Merrythought, Cumbria CA11 9RR e-mail:
  2. 2Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge, Gloucestershire GL2 7BT
  3. 3The Park Office, The Store Yard, Horse Guards Road, St James’s Park, London SW1A 2BJ
  4. 4APHA Weybridge, Woodham Lane, Addlestone, Surrey KT153NB

Statistics from

Suspected incidents of avian botulism affecting wild waterbirds, often occurring on public water bodies and park lakes, have been reported annually in Great Britain since the late 1960s. Affected birds are typically swans, geese, ducks and gulls. As well as being potentially preventable, incidents are often a cause of public concern.

There is a seasonal pattern to cases with incidents/outbreaks usually occurring in warm weather and in warmer summers, but occurrence in any month of the year is possible. Incidents have occurred frequently during the summer months of recent years (2014 to 2016).

The APHA Diseases of Wildlife Scheme (DoWS) and the APHA Avian Influenza Wild Bird Surveillance project, both funded by Defra, examined 17 incidents that were reported to APHA during the summers of 2014-16 in England involving more than 400 wild birds, some examples of which are given in Table 1 …

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