Avian Botulism (Download PDF)

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Botulism is a bacterial disease that recently caused many deaths of migratory species at Sambhar Lake. More than 18,000 carcasses of birds were found in Lake. It is a bacterial disease which is caused by clostridium botulism bacteria. This disease mostly affects animals and humans.

Avian Botulism


  • It causes neuromuscular paralysis in birds.
  • Under normal environmental conditions this bacteria is harmless but in certain environmental conditions like nutrient-rich and anaerobic habitats which are rich in oxygen, under such conditions the bacteria gets germinated and produce toxicants.
  • These conditions are commonly found in soils, wetlands, lakes, gills and digestive tract of healthy fish.

Transmission and Prevention

  • When the fish-eating birds consume these infested fish caused by clostridium botulism bacteria, it affects the neuromuscular system of birds leading to paralysis in their Wings, legs and neck.
  • These birds are ingested by maggots and widely found in the environment.
  • Maggots act as host of the botulism.
  • If these birds get consumed by any other animals and humans it will also get transmitted among them.
  • It doesn՚t spread from one bird to another bird.
  • It will impact the threatened bird species.
  • Vaccines are there to prevent this disease but it is not possible to administer vaccine to wild water birds and migratory birds.
  • There is a need for monitoring wetlands and water bodies which are vulnerable to this bacteria.

Sambhar Lake

  • Sambhar Lake is India՚s largest inland saline water body located in Rajasthan, 80 kilometers away from Southwest of Jaipur.
  • It is the largest salt water lake in India.
  • It is elliptical in shape with length of 35.5 km and breadth varying between 3 km and 11 km.
  • It is one of the important wetlands of India.
  • Migratory birds come to this lake during the winter seasons.

- Published/Last Modified on: December 12, 2019

Health, Environment/Ecology

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