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Avian disease
Botulism in farmed ducks and pheasants
  1. Arthur Otter,
  2. Jo Payne and
  3. Susan Carr
  1. APHA Shrewsbury Veterinary Investigation Centre, Kendal Road, Shrewsbury SY1 4HD
  2. APHA Sutton Bonington, The Elms, College Road, Sutton Bonington, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE12 5RB
  3. Severn Edge Farm Vets, The Bullring, Hollybush Road, Bridgnorth, Shropshire WV16 4AR
  1. e-mail: arthur.otter{at}apha.gsi.gov.uk

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We recently investigated an outbreak of botulism in a duck (Anas platyrhynchos) and pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) farm where 30,000 mallard ducks and 35,000 pheasants are reared from one day old for shooting.

The farm set up is that ducks are kept on several ponds with the water refreshed using pumps. The pheasants are initially reared in small pens and later in large runs with adjacent cover provided by maize. The birds each receive commercial pelleted feed.

From the middle of August increased losses were identified in the ducks on one of the ponds and in the pheasants in one of the runs, which was nearest to the affected pond. Ducks also wandered into this run. The ducks and pheasants were reported to show similar clinical signs: weakness, inability to stand, becoming recumbent on their keels, with wings extended and resting their beaks on the ground.

Six dead mallard ducks and two live pheasants were submitted for examination to the APHA Shrewsbury Veterinary Investigation Centre. Five of the ducks had been …

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