Sometime ago I mentioned the mysterious death of thousands of birds that had washed ashore on a lake in Ontario, leaving people to wonder what was happening that would result in such a massive bunch of dead birds. The dead birds had washed up along a fairly long strip of beach on Wasaga Beach, on the southeast part of Georgian Bay.
Well, the answer to the dead birds mystery is apparently a case of botulism, according to the Ontario Department of Natural Resources and reported by CBC News. The Ontario DNR sent some of the birds for testing by the University of Guelph, and were found positive for Type E botulism, likely something they caught from eating fish carrying the botulism toxin.
According to the spokeperson for Natural Resources Ontario, this is not uncommon. This type of botulism, Type E, is made from a bacterium found living in the sediment on the bottom of the lake. Sometimes that bacterium can get into the underwater food chain, and end up in fish. Birds eat the fish, and perhaps other aquatic creatures and get the disease.
The report says it isn’t a big problem for humans because we typically cook our fish and fowl before we eat it, which kills the E botulism. They do warn that folks should keep pets away from dead birds and fish, but reading between the lines, authorities don’t seem too concerned. I am not sure quite what to make of that. It does make me wonder what lives on the bottom of our cottage lake….
I know I will be staying well away from dead birds and fish, especially any that wash up on the shore, or die in large numbers. It’s kind of scary, but apparently not a serious concern for us. I am not sure how much of that I accept, but then again, I am not an expert on botulism, or anything else for that matter.
You can read the full CBC News report about the dead birds and E Type Botulism, Ontario Bird Deaths Botulism Confirmed
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