Dead Birds in Ontario Being Investigated



By B. McPherson
The death of about 6 000 dead waterfowl in Ontario, Canada’s Georgian Bay region is being investigated. The dead birds are scattered along the shoreline of Lake Huron, having been washed ashore. The initial explanation for the die off is blaming the presence of the botulin toxin.
At this time of year, the bacterium Clostridium botulinum reproduces in conditions that allow a buildup of the botulin toxin. Fish are killed by the toxin and it is thought that this episode of bird die off results from the birds eating the poisoned fish. The Ministry of Natural Resources for Ontario will test the birds for other causes of their death, but pointed out that bird kills at this time of year in the Great Lakes are not uncommon, citing an event about ten years ago in Lake Erie that saw 25 000 birds killed by botulism.
Homeowners along the shoreline are being advised to keep a tight rein on their pets to prevent them from eating fish or birds dead from this toxin. The provincial authorities will be cleaning the shoreline of the provincial park in Georgian Bay, but private land owners will be responsible for clean up of their shoreline.
Clostridium botulinum grows naturally in soil. Usually it causes no harm, but it can produce a deadly toxin. Improperly preserved foods have long been known to be a source of this toxin as the bacterium can thrive without the presence of oxygen. The toxin creates a paralysis of muscles and a person so exposed may die from the inability to breathe. Heat renders the toxin harmless.
This most deadly toxin has become widely known under its marketed name of Botox. Widely used in cosmetic procedures to reduce facial wrinkling, this poison also has medical applications. The very careful injection of Botox(or its other aliases) can treat a wide range of symptoms from preventing migraines to excessive sweating.
This is another example of gifts from Gaia. Often the most valuable gifts are also the most dangerous.

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