Avoid bird carcasses by Kāpiti district waterways
Council is advising people to keep away from dead birds in or near waterways in the district.
Waikanae SPCA yesterday reported two cases of suspected avian botulism, a disease that causes paralysis and death in birds, at the Waimanu lagoons.
Parks and recreation manager Alison Law says that formal testing on the two dead swans that showed avian botulism symptoms has yet to confirm the cause of death, but a precautionary approach is taken in cases where an outbreak is suspected.
“Birds affected with avian botulism typically show signs of paralysis, are unable to fly, and have drooping heads. Wild and captive bird populations, most notably waterfowl, can contract the disease, but it does not cross over to human beings.”
Ms Law says that the disease is spread to other birds through the carcasses of those killed by avian botulism, and can make dogs and cats sick if they eat a dead bird infected with the disease.
“So, anyone who sees a dead bird in the lagoons area is strongly advised not to touch it, but, rather, should inform the Council so our staff can remove them and dispose of the carcasses safely.”
Health authorities say avian botulism is unlikely to pose a threat to humans, but can be passed onto cats and dogs. Ms Law says that pet owners should be vigilant and watch that their pets don’t go near any bird carcasses. It is possible for animals other than birds to get sick if they ingest meat infected with the toxin causing avian botulism.
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 and, once cooler weather comes, the disease generally runs its course.
Anyone who sees sick birds at Waimanu Lagoons or on the north side of Waikanae Estuary should inform the Kapiti SPCA.
Media contact for more information – Charmead Schella on 04 296 4648 or 027 555 7648 | [email protected]