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Efficacy of detection canines for avian botulism surveillance and mitigation

March 9, 2021

Hawai'i's endangered waterbirds have experienced epizootics caused by ingestion of prey that accumulated a botulinum neurotoxin produced by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum (avian botulism; Type C). Waterbird carcasses, necrophagous flies, and their larvae initiate and spread avian botulism, a food-borne paralytic disease lethal to waterbirds. Each new carcass has potential to develop toxin-accumulating necrophagous vectors amplifying outbreaks and killing hundreds of endangered waterbirds. Early carcass removal is an effective mitigation strategy for preventing avian intoxication, toxin concentration in necrophagous and secondary food webs, and reducing the magnitude of epizootics. However, rapid detection of carcasses can be problematic and labor intensive. Therefore, we tested a new method using scent detection canines for avian botulism surveillance on Kaua'i Island. During operational surveillance and a randomized double-blind field trial, trained detector canines with experienced field handlers improved carcass detection probability, especially in dense vegetation. Detector canines could be combined with conventional surveillance to optimize search strategies for carcass removal and are a useful tool to reduce risks of the initiation and propagation of avian botulism.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Efficacy of detection canines for avian botulism surveillance and mitigation
DOI 10.1111/csp2.397
Authors Michelle H Reynolds, Kyoko N Johnson, Eleni Schvaneveldt, Dan L Dewy, Kim J Uyehara, Steven C. Hess
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Science and Practice
Index ID 70221788
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center