Potential avian botulism cases found in birds at reserve in Waikanae Beach

3 Feb 2023, 4:19 PM

Signs of avian botulism, a disease that causes paralysis and death in birds, have been identified in multiple dead and dying ducks found at Waikanae Beach’s Pharazyn Reserve today.

Kāpiti Coast District Council environment and ecological services team lead Andy McKay says staff have collected carcasses from the oxidation ponds at the Reserve this afternoon.

“Wild and captive bird populations, most notably waterfowl, can contract the disease through the carcasses of those killed by avian botulism but thankfully it does not cross over to humans,” says Mr McKay.

“It can however make cats and dogs sick if they eat a dead bird infected with the disease.

“We ask people to keep themselves and their animals away from any dead birds they find in or near our waterways and to inform Council so we can remove and dispose of the carcasses safely.

“We have erected signage at the site, which is already predominately closed to the public, to ensure people are aware of the issue.

“We will continue to monitor the site on a regular basis, removing any newly deceased birds.

“Most outbreaks of avian botulism occur during summer when there is less oxygen in waterways due to lower water levels. This causes decaying plant growth and the perfect microclimate for the toxin to occur.

“Outbreaks are managed through the removal of infected carcasses. The disease generally runs its course once cooler weather arrives.

“It may take some time, but we will let the public know as soon as possible when we find out the cause of the current mortalities.

“We’re also working with Greater Wellington and the Department of Conservation to ensure collectively we have a good grasp on the spread.”

To report any dead birds in Council parks and public spaces please phone us on 04 296 4700 or 0800 486 486.

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