September 22, 2008

Florida Duck Deaths Blamed on Botulism

The deaths of at least 15 ducks in Coconut Creek, Fla., likely were caused by botulism, a wildlife official says.

Society for Prevention for Cruelty to Animals Wildlife Care Center official Stefan Harsch said bacteria in the water at the ducks' colony likely caused an outbreak of botulism that claimed the lives of the 15 birds last week, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel said Monday.

Officials from the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., care center were called to investigate the situation in Broward County, Fla., but Harsch told the newspaper there is little they could do if the serious illness was involved.

Unless treated shortly after infection, botulism causes muscle paralysis in the infected host and eventually leads the victim suffocating.

Harsch asked area residents to contact the center regarding any ailing ducks and recommended they avoid feeding the birds. Botulism can be a byproduct of rotting bread in water supplies as the food breaks down and makes the water toxic, the Sun-Sentinel said.