Scientists test ideas in bird botulism outbreaks

Dec 08, 2013 by John Flesher

Scientists are stepping up efforts to learn where and how many Great Lakes water birds are getting fatal food poisoning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says around 100,000 may have died since 2000 from Type E botulism. Their bodies have littered beaches. Loons and other deep-diving birds appear especially vulnerable.

Researchers in Florida are using stuffed bird carcasses in a lab tank to develop a model that could trace their movements and pinpoint where they were poisoned.

It's part of a broader effort to determine what, if anything, can be done to stop the die-offs.

Experts believe the toxin is produced when algae dies, floats to the bottom and rots, sucking up oxygen from the water.

The moves up the until birds eat contaminated fish and become paralyzed.

Explore further: Great lakes waterfowl die-offs: Finding the source

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Great lakes waterfowl die-offs: Finding the source

Nov 24, 2013

A deadly menace stalks the loons, gulls and other water birds of the Great Lakes region: Type E botulism, a neuromuscular disease caused when birds eat fish infected with toxin-producing bacteria. Cases of ...

Scientists help identify possible botulism blocker

Oct 11, 2013

U.S. and German scientists have decoded a key molecular gateway for the toxin that causes botulism, pointing the way to treatments that can keep the food-borne poison out of the bloodstream.

Recommended for you

Nestling birds struggle in noisy environments

Oct 29, 2014

Unable to fly, nestling birds depend on their parents for both food and protection: vocal communication between parents and offspring helps young birds to determine when they should beg for food and when they should crouch ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.