OC Officials Warn of Possible Bird Botulism Outbreak
File photo of a Mallard duck
Five Mallard ducks and one American Coot were admitted to the Wetlands & Wildlife Care Center (WWCC) in Huntington Beach on Monday with possible avian botulism.
Rescuers estimated that approximately 20 more birds would be transported to WWCC on Tuesday morning, the center said in a news release.
Avian botulism is a paralytic and potentially fatal disease that affects birds after they ingest a botulinum toxin.
Many birds inadvertently eat spores while feeding, and the spores live in their tissues with no effect on the birds' health.
When a bird dies, however, its decaying carcass often provides conditions that botulism need to grow and produce toxin: high temperatures, protein rich material and an absence of air.
Botulism toxin is then transferred to birds by maggots and other invertebrates that feed on the decaying carcasses.
Large numbers of maggots on a bird carcass can attract live birds that then become poisoned by ingesting toxic maggots.
Avian botulism poisoning causes progressive paralysis, with affected birds losing control over their muscles so they appear weak and limp.
Symptoms include the inability to fly, followed by an inability to walk.
Eventually the bird loses control over the muscles in its neck and can't hold its head upright. Ultimately, the bird dies from drowning or suffocation.
If you notice a large number of sick birds, contact the Orange County Animal Control as soon as possible.