Avian Botulism-Reason behind birds’ death in Sambhar Lake

The Indian Veterinary Research Institute (IVRI) on November 21, 2019, confirmed that a neuro muscular illness called Avian Botulism is the reason for mass mortality of migratory birds in Sambhar Lake in Rajasthan. The doctors say that the birds were suffering from Avian Botulism that was caused due to a toxin produced by bacterial strain.

On November 12, 2019, thousands of migratory birds died in Sambhar lake that sent shock waves throughout the country.

Key Findings

The IVRI confirmed that the mass death was caused by the bacteria Clostriduim botulinum. The bacteria affected the nervous system of the birds that led to flaccid paralysis in their wings and legs. Over 18,000 carcasses were removed from the lake. The samples had varied stages of maggots by which scientists confirm that the mortality has occurred over a period of time.

Clostridium botulinum

According to WHO, Clostridium botulinum is the bacteria that produces dangerous toxins when the oxygen conditions are low. They lead to muscular paralysis blocking nerve functions. The bacteria cause 4 types of botulism namely infant botulism, wound botulism, foodborne botulism and inhalation botulism. Homemade, fermented and preserved foods are common sources of foodborne botulism.

The bacteria are common in improperly processed foods. They are heat-resistant and germinate and grow in the absence of oxygen and excrete toxins.

WHO on Botulism

The World Health Organization supports and strengthens national and international surveillance on the local outbreak of the disease through the program INFOSAN. INFOSAM is International Network of Food Safety Authorities. The organization links the food safety authorities at national level with FAO and WHO. It includes actions against the spread of botulism as well.

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