NDOW Continues Efforts to Monitor Waterfowl Disease

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) has been actively addressing recent cases of Avian Type C Botulism, an often fatal disease in birds. “Although not harmful to humans; when waterfowl ingest the toxin produced by the botulism bacteria, the toxin affects the nervous system and leads to progressive paralysis,” said Russell Woolstenhulme, Migratory Game Bird Staff Biologist at NDOW. 

Type C Botulism has been reported from within the Truckee Meadows area as well as an outbreak near Fallon. A type C botulism outbreak is usually triggered when summer temperatures climb above 90° and water levels start to drop. These conditions can cause a decrease in water oxygen levels, which can kill fish and water insects allowing the botulism bacteria to enter a rapid growth phase that leads to toxin production.  Ducks and other water birds pick up the bacteria through feeding and often die.  Affected birds will be weak, unable to fly, walk or swim. 

Type C botulism has not been associated with disease in humans, however, always wash your hands thoroughly after any contact with wildlife. Keep pets away from sick or dead birds.  “In cases where a pet may have ingested a contaminated carcass, monitor them for signs of sickness and contact your veterinarian if you suspect they are getting sick,” said Dr. Peregrine Wolff, DVM veterinarian for NDOW.  

If multiple sick or dead ducks are present in an area, or if you own a pond and would like further information on how to prevent Type C botulism in your pond, you are encouraged to call the Nevada Department of Wildlife at 775-688-1500.  

The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) protects, restores and manages fish and wildlife, and promotes fishing, hunting, and boating safety. NDOW’s wildlife and habitat conservation efforts are primarily funded by sportsmen’s license and conservation fees and a federal surcharge on hunting and fishing gear. Support wildlife and habitat conservation in Nevada by purchasing a hunting, fishing, or combination license. Find us on Facebook, Twitter or visit us at www.ndow.org