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Avian botulism type E in waterbirds of Lake Michigan, 2010–2013

April 23, 2015

During 2010 to 2013, waterbird mortality surveillance programs used a shared protocol for shoreline walking surveys performed June to November at three areas in northern Lake Michigan. In 2010 and 2012, 1244 total carcasses (0.8 dead bird/km walked) and 2399 total carcasses (1.2 dead birds/km walked), respectively, were detected. Fewer carcasses were detected in 2011 (353 total carcasses, 0.2 dead bird/km walked) and 2013 (451 total carcasses, 0.3 dead bird/km walked). During 3 years, peak detection of carcasses occurred in October and involved primarily migratory diving and fish-eating birds, including long-tailed ducks (Clangula hyemalis; 2010), common loons (Gavia immer; 2012), and red-breasted mergansers (Mergus serrator; 2013). In 2011, peak detection of carcasses occurred in August and consisted primarily of summer residents such as gulls (Larus spp.) and double-crested cormorants (Phalacrocorax auritus). A subset of fresh carcasses was collected throughout each year of the study and tested for botulinum neurotoxin type E (BoNT/E). Sixty-one percent of carcasses (57/94) and 10 of 11 species collected throughout the sampling season tested positive for BoNT/E, suggesting avian botulism type E was a major cause of death for both resident and migratory birds in Lake Michigan. The variety of avian species affected by botulism type E throughout the summer and fall during all 4 years of coordinated surveillance also suggests multiple routes for bird exposure to BoNT/E in Lake Michigan.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2015
Title Avian botulism type E in waterbirds of Lake Michigan, 2010–2013
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2015.03.021
Authors Jennifer G. Chipault, C. LeAnn White, David S. Blehert, Susan K. Jennings, Sean M. Strom
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70146899
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wildlife Health Center