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AFP
November 18, 2019

Botulism feared responsible for migratory bird deaths in India

World

AFP
November 18, 2019

JAIPUR, India: Thousands of birds have died at India’s largest inland saltwater lake from suspected botulism, officials said on Sunday.

The 8,000 carcasses were found over the last few days in and around Rajasthan state’s Sambhar Lake, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) from the capital Jaipur.

"Veterinary experts from the Rajasthan University of Veterinary and Animal Sciences have indicated that the deaths occurred due to botulism," the state forest department’s principal secretary, Sreya Guha, told AFP.

Avian botulism, a naturally occurring neurotoxin activated in warm weather by bacteria in silt, is passed along to waterbirds through infected bugs, causing paralysis or death. It is not contagious to humans.

The government is awaiting a detailed analysis of the dead birds from the Indian Veterinary Research Institute as well as a report from a southern India laboratory on the water’s heavy metal toxicity. Officials suspect the birds had been feeding on maggot-infested carcasses, contributing to their death. Thousands of carcasses have been fished out of the water and buried but there are fears more could be lying on the bed of the lake.

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