Invasive Species Compendium

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botulism

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Datasheet

botulism

Summary

  • Last modified
  • 14 July 2018
  • Datasheet Type(s)
  • Animal Disease
  • Preferred Scientific Name
  • botulism
  • Pathogens
  • Clostridium botulinum
  • Overview
  • Clostridium botulinum is the bacterial agent responsible for the intoxication called botulism. Botulism results in a neuroparalysis in many mammalian and avian species. The bacterial species actually consists of...

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Identity

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Preferred Scientific Name

  • botulism

International Common Names

  • English: botulism toxicity in birds, clostridium botulinum; botulism toxicity in ruminants, clostridium botulinum; botulism toxicity in swine, clostridium botulinum; clostridiosis; Clostridium botulinum infection; paralysis, bulbar
  • Spanish: botulismo
  • French: botulisme

Local Common Names

  • Argentina: mal de aguapey
  • Australia: bulbar paralysis
  • Brazil: stiff foreleg disease
  • Denmark: pølseforgiftning
  • Italy: botulismo
  • Portugal: botulismo
  • South Africa: lamsiekte; lamziekte
  • USA: alkali poisoning; forage poisoning; limberneck; loin disease; shaker foal syndrome; western duck sickness
  • Venezuela: bovine paraplegic syndrome; sindrome paraplejico de los bovinos

Pathogen/s

Top of page Clostridium botulinum

Overview

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Clostridium botulinum is the bacterial agent responsible for the intoxication called botulism. Botulism results in a neuroparalysis in many mammalian and avian species. The bacterial species actually consists of a widely varying collection of organisms that produce a group of at least seven (designated A-G) serologically distinct toxins, which are the most powerful natural toxins found in nature. Although differing in the specifics of action, all of the toxins block acetylcholine release from cholinergic nerve endings, ultimately causing paralysis of the respiratory system. Botulism has been recognized as a food-borne illness, since the disease was first characterized by van Ermengem in 1895 (Hatheway, 1990). Besides originating with a food-borne intoxication in which pre-formed toxin is ingested, three categories of botulism have been described in humans. Wound botulism, is a botulism in which toxigenic isolates colonize, grow and produce toxins (Merson and Dowell, 1973; CDC, 1980). Infant botulism, occurs in neonates that ingest clostridial spores (Arnon et al., 1977; Paton et al., 1983). There is a fourth category that is described by the Center of Disease Control as botulism occurring in adults and children with no apparent food vehicle (CDC, 1978). No clear evidence indicates whether the categories other than food-borne botulism occur in species other than man.

Host Animals

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Animal nameContextLife stageSystem
Alectoris rufa (red-legged partridge)Domesticated host, Wild host
Anas (ducks)Experimental settingsOther: All Stages
Anser (geese)
Anser anser (geese)
Anser cygnoides
Bos indicus (zebu)
Bos taurus (cattle)Domesticated hostCattle & Buffaloes: All Stages
Bubalus bubalis (Asian water buffalo)Domesticated hostCattle & Buffaloes: All Stages
Cairina (Muscovy ducks)
Camelus dromedarius (dromedary camel)Domesticated host
Canis familiaris (dogs)Domesticated hostOther: All Stages
Capra hircus (goats)Domesticated hostSheep & Goats: All Stages
Cebus capucinaDomesticated hostOther: All Stages
CervidaeDomesticated hostOther: All Stages
Columba livia (pigeons)Wild hostOther: All Stages
Equus caballus (horses)Domesticated hostOther: All Stages
Gallus gallus domesticus (chickens)Domesticated hostPoultry: All Stages
Homo sapiensWild hostOther: All Stages
MeleagrisDomesticated hostPoultry: All Stages
mulesDomesticated hostOther: All Stages
Mus musculus (house mouse)
Muscovy duck
Neovison vison (American mink)Domesticated hostOther: All Stages
Ovis aries (sheep)Domesticated hostSheep & Goats: All Stages
Panthera leo (lion)Domesticated hostOther: All Stages
PavoDomesticated hostOther: All Stages
PelecanusWild hostOther: All Stages
Perdix perdix (grey partridge)Domesticated host, Wild host
Phasianus (pheasants)Domesticated hostOther: All Stages
Phasianus colchicus (common pheasant)Domesticated host, Wild host
RuminantiaDomesticated hostCattle & Buffaloes: All Stages|Sheep & Goats/All Stages
SaimiriDomesticated hostOther: All Stages
StruthioDomesticated hostOther: All Stages
Sus scrofa (pigs)Domesticated hostPigs: All Stages

Hosts/Species Affected

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Outbreaks of botulism occur regularly in areas where waterfowl congregate, particularly in areas such as the western United States, where waters are alkaline, or in water with high levels of phosphate (Marion et al., 1983). Extensive mortality in waterfowl or other fish-feeding birds have also been associated with the ingestion of arthropods, fish (Brand et al., 1988), fly larvae (Shayegani et al., 1984) and beetles (Duncan and Jensen, 1976) contaminated with Clostridium botulinum spores or toxins. Mortality in poultry houses has been associated with fly maggots (Cliplef and Wobeser, 1993) or beetles, which are ostensibly contaminated with spores of the bacterium. Botulism in cattle has been associated with the ingestion of ensiled poultry litter (Jean et al., 1995), ensiled grain (Divers et al., 1986), plastic encased hay (Wilson et al., 1995), contaminated pasture land (Notermans et al., 1981), and consumption of contaminated brewers’ grains (Breukink et al., 1978). Botulism has been associated in other species with the consumption of duck carcasses (Farrow et al., 1983) or by consumption of poultry carcasses from birds that have succumbed to ataxia, paralysis or recumbency (Greenwood, 1985). Toxic infectious botulism has been demonstrated in horses, where toxin is produced in necrotic areas of the body (Swerczek, 1980).

Systems Affected

Top of page nervous system diseases of large ruminants
nervous system diseases of pigs
nervous system diseases of poultry
nervous system diseases of small ruminants

Distribution

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Botulism is worldwide in its occurrence, occurring in manymammalian and avian species and has been reproduced experimentally in cattle (Colbachini et al., 1999), chickens (Okamoto et al., 1999b), ducks (Martinez and Wobeser, 1999), turkeys (Jeffrey et al., 1994) and goats (Santos et al., 1993).

Distribution Table

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The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.

Continent/Country/RegionDistributionLast ReportedOriginFirst ReportedInvasiveReferenceNotes

Asia

AzerbaijanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BahrainDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BhutanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Brunei DarussalamNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ChinaLocalisedLi, 1990
-Hong KongReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Georgia (Republic of)Last reported1993OIE Handistatus, 2005
IndonesiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IranDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
IraqReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
IsraelNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
JapanNo information availableOkamoto et al., 1999a; OIE Handistatus, 2005
JordanDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
KazakhstanDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, DPROIE Handistatus, 2005
Korea, Republic ofReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
KuwaitDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LebanonNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Malaysia
-Peninsular MalaysiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SabahDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
-SarawakNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MongoliaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MyanmarNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
NepalNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
OmanReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
PhilippinesNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
QatarDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Russian Federation
-Russia (Asia)PresentIslamov, 1991
Saudi ArabiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SingaporeDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sri LankaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SyriaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
TaiwanLast reported2003Wang and Kao, 1996; OIE Handistatus, 2005
TajikistanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ThailandDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
TurkeyLast reported1996OIE Handistatus, 2005
TurkmenistanNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
United Arab EmiratesDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
UzbekistanDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
VietnamNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
YemenNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

Africa

AlgeriaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
AngolaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
BeninNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BotswanaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Burkina FasoNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BurundiNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
CameroonNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cape VerdeDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Central African RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ChadNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Congo Democratic RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Côte d'IvoireDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DjiboutiDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
EgyptNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
EritreaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
EthiopiaLast reported2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
GhanaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuineaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Guinea-BissauNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
KenyaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
LibyaLast reported1999OIE Handistatus, 2005
MadagascarDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MalawiNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MaliNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MauritiusDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoroccoNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
MozambiqueNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
NamibiaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
NigeriaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
RéunionDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
RwandaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Sao Tome and PrincipeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SenegalReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
SeychellesNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
SomaliaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
South AfricaReported present or known to be presentLugt et al., 1996; OIE Handistatus, 2005
SudanLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
SwazilandLast reported2001OIE Handistatus, 2005
TanzaniaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
TogoDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
TunisiaLast reported2000OIE Handistatus, 2005
UgandaLast reported2001OIE Handistatus, 2005
ZambiaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ZimbabweReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005

North America

BermudaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CanadaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-AlbertaPresentLeighton et al., 1990
-ManitobaPresentLeighton et al., 1990
-SaskatchewanPresentWobeser et al., 1997
MexicoDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
USAReported present or known to be presentPage and Fletcher, 1975; McCapes RH(Chairman), Chairman; Galey et al., 2000; Swift et al., 2000; OIE Handistatus, 2005
-CaliforniaPresentLinares et al., 1994; Williams and Whitlock, 1998; Galey et al., 2000; Swift et al., 2000
-FloridaPresentForrester et al., 1980
-GeorgiaPresentPage and Fletcher, 1975
-TennesseePresentWilson et al., 1995

Central America and Caribbean

BarbadosNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelizeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
British Virgin IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Cayman IslandsDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Costa RicaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
CubaDisease not reportedBoado et al., 1992; OIE Handistatus, 2005
CuraçaoDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DominicaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Dominican RepublicOIE Handistatus, 2005
El SalvadorNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuadeloupeNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuatemalaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
HaitiLast reported2003OIE Handistatus, 2005
HondurasDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
JamaicaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
MartiniqueNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
NicaraguaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
PanamaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Kitts and NevisDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Saint Vincent and the GrenadinesDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Trinidad and TobagoLast reported1996OIE Handistatus, 2005

South America

ArgentinaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BoliviaOIE Handistatus, 2005
BrazilReported present or known to be presentSilva et al., 1998; OIE Handistatus, 2005
-MaranhaoPresentSilva et al., 1998
-Minas GeraisPresentLobato et al., 1995
-Sao PauloPresentLisbôa et al., 1996
ChileDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
ColombiaLast reported2001OIE Handistatus, 2005
EcuadorNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Falkland IslandsDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
French GuianaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
GuyanaSerological evidence and/or isolation of the agentOIE Handistatus, 2005
ParaguayReported present or known to be presentBrizuela, 1996; OIE Handistatus, 2005
PeruDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
UruguayReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
VenezuelaCAB Abstracts data miningOIE Handistatus, 2005

Europe

AndorraDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
AustriaNo information availableGlawischnig et al., 1999; OIE Handistatus, 2005
BelarusDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
BelgiumNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Bosnia-HercegovinaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
BulgariaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CroatiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
CyprusDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Czech RepublicDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
DenmarkNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
EstoniaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
FinlandLast reported2002OIE Handistatus, 2005
FranceReported present or known to be presentPommier et al., 1988; Popoff, 1989; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GermanyNo information availableBöhnel, 1999; OIE Handistatus, 2005
GreeceDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
HungaryOIE Handistatus, 2005
IcelandLast reported1997OIE Handistatus, 2005
IrelandReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
Isle of Man (UK)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
ItalyNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
JerseyNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
LatviaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LiechtensteinDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LithuaniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
LuxembourgDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MacedoniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MaltaDisease never reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
MoldovaLast reported1989OIE Handistatus, 2005
NetherlandsReported present or known to be presentChiers et al., 1998; OIE Handistatus, 2005
NorwayDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
PolandNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
PortugalDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
RomaniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Russian FederationLast reported1998OIE Handistatus, 2005
-Russia (Europe)PresentIslamov, 1991
SlovakiaLast reported1999OIE Handistatus, 2005
SloveniaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SpainDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
SwedenReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
SwitzerlandReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
UKReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-Northern IrelandReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
UkraineDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (former)No information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)Disease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005

Oceania

AustraliaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
-Australian Northern TerritoryPresentWitte Kde, 1996
-QueenslandPresentChamberlain and Thomas, 1995
-Western AustraliaPresentMain and Gregory, 1996
French PolynesiaDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
New CaledoniaReported present or known to be presentOIE Handistatus, 2005
New ZealandOIE Handistatus, 2005
SamoaNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005
VanuatuDisease not reportedOIE Handistatus, 2005
Wallis and Futuna IslandsNo information availableOIE Handistatus, 2005

Pathology

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Since botulism in animals is caused by an ingestion of pre-formed toxin, pathology is generally limited or absent. Affected nerves exhibit no specific pathology. Avian species will frequently exhibit maggots in the gastrointestinal tract.

Diagnosis

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Differential diagnosis of botulism is dependent upon observed clinical signs.

Definitive diagnosis is dependent upon detection of toxin in the serum or gastrointestinal washings of an animal. Detection of toxins in post-mortem tissues is not a reliable indication of the disease, since the bacteria are frequently present in the gut and will proliferate post-mortem. The mouse toxin neutralization bioassay is a sensitive and reliable method for detection of toxin in serum and identification of the specific toxin present. Serum samples from waterfowl may require concentration or multiple injections for a sufficient amount of toxin to be detected in the mouse bioassay.

Isolation of the bacterium requires specialized anaerobic techniques and may be of little value since the organism is widespread in nature. Isolation of bacterium from feedstuffs can be accomplished using cooked meat medium incubated at 30°C. Sufficient toxin for a mouse bioassay may require several days of incubation.

PCR methods are also available for difficult recovery samples such as dirt or sludge, which may have a wide variety of Clostridia simultaneously present.

List of Symptoms/Signs

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SignLife StagesType
Cardiovascular Signs / Bradycardia, slow heart beat or pulse Sign
Cardiovascular Signs / Tachycardia, rapid pulse, high heart rate Sign
Digestive Signs / Abdominal distention Sign
Digestive Signs / Anorexia, loss or decreased appetite, not nursing, off feed Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Poultry:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Bloat in ruminants, tympany Sign
Digestive Signs / Decreased amount of stools, absent faeces, constipation Sign
Digestive Signs / Diarrhoea Poultry:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Difficulty in prehending or chewing food Sign
Digestive Signs / Dysphagia, difficulty swallowing Sign
Digestive Signs / Dysphagia, difficulty swallowing Sign
Digestive Signs / Excessive salivation, frothing at the mouth, ptyalism Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All Stages Sign
Digestive Signs / Mucous, mucoid stools, faeces Sign
Digestive Signs / Palpable dilated bowel internal paplation Sign
Digestive Signs / Rumen hypomotility or atony, decreased rate, motility, strength Sign
Digestive Signs / Tongue protrusion Sign
Digestive Signs / Tongue weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Abnormal proprioceptive positioning, knuckling Sign
General Signs / Ataxia, incoordination, staggering, falling Sign
General Signs / Ataxia, incoordination, staggering, falling Sign
General Signs / Dehydration Sign
General Signs / Dysmetria, hypermetria, hypometria Sign
General Signs / Exercise intolerance, tires easily Sign
General Signs / Exercise intolerance, tires easily Sign
General Signs / Forelimb weakness, paresis, paralysis front leg Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Generalized weakness, paresis, paralysis Sign
General Signs / Head, face, ears, jaw weakness, droop, paresis, paralysis Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Hypothermia, low temperature Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Inability to stand, downer, prostration Sign
General Signs / Increased mortality in flocks of birds Sign
General Signs / Lameness, stiffness, stilted gait in birds Sign
General Signs / Lordosis, ventral curvature of back Sign
General Signs / Neck weakness, paresis, paralysis, limp, ventroflexion Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Poultry:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Paraparesis, weakness, paralysis both hind limbs Sign
General Signs / Paraparesis, weakness, paralysis both hind limbs Sign
General Signs / Reluctant to move, refusal to move Sign
General Signs / Sudden death, found dead Sign
General Signs / Sudden death, found dead Sign
General Signs / Tail weakness, paresis, paralysis sacrococcygeal region Sign
General Signs / Tetraparesis, weakness, paralysis all four limbs Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Weakness of one hindlimb, paresis paralysis rear leg Sign
General Signs / Weakness, paresis, paralysis of the legs, limbs in birds Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Weakness, paresis, paralysis, drooping, of the wings Poultry:All Stages Sign
General Signs / Weight loss Poultry:All Stages Sign
Nervous Signs / Abnormal anal, perineal, tail reflexes, increased or decreased Sign
Nervous Signs / Abnormal forelimb reflexes, increased or decreased Sign
Nervous Signs / Abnormal hindlimb reflexes, increased or decreased Sign
Nervous Signs / Coma, stupor Poultry:All Stages Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Sign
Nervous Signs / Dullness, depression, lethargy, depressed, lethargic, listless Sign
Nervous Signs / Muscle hypotonia Sign
Nervous Signs / Muscle hypotonia Sign
Nervous Signs / Propulsion, aimless wandering Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Poultry:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All Stages Sign
Nervous Signs / Tremor Other:All Stages Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Abnormal pupillary response to light Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Mydriasis, dilated pupil Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Mydriasis, dilated pupil Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Photophobia Sign
Ophthalmology Signs / Ptosis, lid droop Sign
Reproductive Signs / Agalactia, decreased, absent milk production Sign
Respiratory Signs / Abnormal lung or pleural sounds, rales, crackles, wheezes, friction rubs Cattle & Buffaloes:All Stages,Other:All Stages,Pigs:All Stages,Sheep & Goats:All Stages Sign
Respiratory Signs / Change in voice, vocal strength Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Sign
Respiratory Signs / Dyspnea, difficult, open mouth breathing, grunt, gasping Sign
Respiratory Signs / Increased respiratory rate, polypnea, tachypnea, hyperpnea Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Cold skin, cool ears, extremities Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Loss of feathers, loose feathers Poultry:All Stages Sign
Skin / Integumentary Signs / Ruffled, ruffling of the feathers Poultry:All Stages Sign
Urinary Signs / Dysuria, difficult urination, stranguria Sign
Urinary Signs / Enlarged, distended, urinary bladder Sign
Urinary Signs / Urinary incontinence, dribbling urine Sign
Urinary Signs / Urinary incontinence, dribbling urine Sign

Disease Course

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Botulism in animals is due to an intoxication of preformed toxin and therefore the onset of the disease occurs some period after ingestion of the contaminated foodstuff. The duration before onset of the disease is dependent on the specific pathogenicity of the bacterial isolate, the quantity of toxin present in the foodstuff and the immunocompetence of the affected animal. Signs are frequently observable 6-10 hours post-ingestion, where high levels of toxin are present and within days when lower amounts of toxin are involved.

Botulism in animals and man is a neuroparalytic disease that is caused by the blockage of acetylcholine release from nerves that innervate all skeletal muscles, including the muscles of the respiratory system. Other autonomic nerves are often also affected, causing irregular heart rates and affecting blood pressure. The disease is characterized by a symmetric incapacitation of the cranial nerves followed by a descending flaccid paralysis of the muscles of the trunk and limbs. Death is ultimately caused by respiratory failure.

Symptoms and clinical signs differ slightly for avian and mammalian species. Avian species can exhibit anorexia and in chronic intoxications can become emaciated. The legs, wings and necks often become flaccid and paralysed, with signs progressing from the legs to the wings, neck and eyelids. The neck may appear limp and fall back on the body of the bird, the bird may appear comatose due to eyelid paralysis. Birds can lose control of motor function and suffer from inco-ordination. Waterfowl as a result of lost motor function may be unable to swim and frequently drown. Sick birds will often have ruffled feathers and the feathers may fall out upon handling the animal. In addition animals may suffer from watery diarrhoea with excessive urates.

Mammalian species also suffer from paralysis of the leg and neck, with symptoms progressing cranially from hindquarters to the neck and eyelids. Paralysis of the nictating membrane may also occur, along with, in cattle, paralysis of the tongue, eyes and facial muscles. Anorexia can be a symptom. Animals suffer from inco-ordination and loss of motor function. Animals exhibit laboured breathing and excessive salivation. Horses if affected by botulism may exhibit muscle tremors.

Impact: Economic

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The most widespread outbreaks of botulism occur in waterfowl, making the economic impact difficult to calculate. Significant amounts of money have been spent in clean-up efforts in the Western United States. More limited outbreaks of botulism can result in a locally significant economic impact, particularly where large animals such as lactating cows, beef cattle or horses are involved or where large portions of poultry flocks are affected. Anti-toxin intervention is expensive and associated nursing care costs for valuable animals may be significant. Intervention with large numbers of animals or animals in the wild is cost prohibitive.

Zoonoses and Food Safety

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Consumption of material containing toxin is a significant health risk. Botulinum toxins are heat sensitive and neutralized when heated at 100°C or more for at least 10 minutes. Human botulism is a reportable disease in the United States. Single cases of botulism frequently herald the occurrence of larger scale outbreaks and should immediately be referred to local authorities or the relevant regional or national public health laboratory. Details of the case should be compiled and the Center of Disease Control or country equivalent should be notified.

Disease Treatment

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Avian species


Poultry


Affected live birds should be removed from the housing environment and euthanized. Carcasses should be immediately removed from premises and disposed of through incineration.

Valuable birds can be removed from the environment and placed in isolation with fresh feed and water. Recovery may be problematic, depending on the amount of toxin ingested. Anti-toxin intervention is impractical. Administration of immune system modulators such as vitamin E is probably of little value in an outbreak.


Waterfowl


Affected live birds should be removed from the environment and euthanized. Rehabilitation is possible for limited cases, but impractical in widespread outbreaks. Carcasses should be immediately removed from the environment and disposed of through incineration. Land areas where carcasses have been laid can be sprayed with insecticides to kill any maggots that may have fed on carcasses.

Rare or protected species can be removed from the environment and placed in cages and provided with fresh water and feed appropriate for the species. Water for swimming should not be provided until the bird is fully ambulatory and co-ordinated in locomotion, since affected water birds frequently enter the water and drown. Recovery may be problematic, depending on the amount of toxin ingested. Anti-toxin is available but impractical in the wild. Anti-toxin intervention may be useful in zoological collections or where rare or endangered breeds are involved.


Mammalian species


Removal of the animal from the affected environment is important, since the animal can fall victim to predation. Intensive supportive care is necessary and mechanical ventilation support may be required. Anti-toxin administration is frequently advisable, particularly if the animal is valuable. Anti-toxin administration will only neutralize unbound toxin and is not effective for reversing the effects of bound toxin or relieving paralysis. Some studies indicate that anti-toxin must be administered to animals prior to the onset of clinical signs for intervention to be effective. Paralysis may continue to develop after the administration of an anti-toxin. Anti-microbial therapy should generally not be instituted for intoxication cases, since lysed bacteria will actually increase the amount of free neurotoxin in circulation. Anti-microbial therapy is used in cases of human wound botulism.

Prevention and Control

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Management practices should emphasize the removal of probable sources of botulism toxins. Mortality of any etiology should be immediately removed from the environment, since proliferation of the bacterium and release of the toxin can quickly contaminate carcasses. Fly and beetle control measures should be implemented.

Immunization programmes with inactivated toxoids have been used with some success, particularly in commercial pheasant, mink farms and in cattle range operations in South Africa and Australia. Vaccination of pregnant mares prior to parturition with type B toxoid has been shown to reduce the incidence of the disease in young horses (Johnston and Whitlock, 1987).

Captive or domestic carnivores should not be fed carcasses from disease mortalities, particularly those poultry in origin.

Pentavalent botulism toxoid (A, B, C, D, E) is available from the Center of Disease Control (Atlanta, Georgia, USA) for immunization of laboratory workers who handle the pathogen or the neurotoxins.

References

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