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Botulism cases in Ireland, 2015-2018



Botulism has been described in most animal species. Death is caused by ingesting material contaminated by a toxin which is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The majority of cases in Irish livestock occur in cattle. Botulism in animals generally involves D/C toxin. Humans are considered to be refractory to D/C toxin.  Irish outbreaks are most commonly associated with the presence/spreading of poultry litter in proximity to the livestock. The classic signs of botulism in cattle include generalised weakness, staggering or instability especially in the hind legs, recumbency, inability to swallow and drooling.  The consequences for the individual farms affected by bovine botulism can be severe due to high number of deaths in animals and contamination of fodder, which cannot then be used to feed susceptible animals.

Surveillance data

Bovine botulism is not a notifiable disease in Ireland but cases should be reported to your local DVO or Regional Veterinary Laboratory so that the incidence of the disease in Ireland is monitored. Note that cases recorded by DAFM are limited to those notified and investigated by DAFM laboratories. Accordingly, DAFM figures will generally underestimate the total number of farms affected.

 

Records of cases of botulism diagnosed in DAFM laboratories from 2015 to 2018.

 Added 30.04.2019

Dealing with a suspected case of botulism

Any farmer who suspects botulism in his livestock is advised to contact his private veterinary practitioner in the first instance.

Prevention of Botulism

The correct handling of poultry litter is of paramount importance in prevention of botulism.

DAFM has produced several guides for those who deal with poultry litter, as follows:

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/foodindustrydevelopmenttrademarkets/animalby-products/poultrylitter/CodeGoodPracticePoultryFarmers120319.pdf 

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/foodindustrydevelopmenttrademarkets/animalby-products/poultrylitter/2CodeGoodPracticeEndUsersPoultryLitter050319.pdf

https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/media/migration/foodindustrydevelopmenttrademarkets/animalby-products/poultrylitter/3CodeGoodPracticePoultryLitterHauliers050319.pdf

 

The guidelines contained in these documents should be closely observed in order to minimize the risk of botulism outbreaks.

 

Further information

Some more detailed information on botulism can be found on the DAFM website at https://www.agriculture.gov.ie/animalhealthwelfare/diseasecontrol/botulism/

 

Species: Multi-Species
10:56 AM on Wed, 24 April