Author(s): Lindstrm M, Nevas M, Kurki J, Saunaaho R, LatvalaKiesil A,
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Abstract The largest reported outbreak of type C botulism in fur production animals is described. Epidemiological investigation of 117 out of 157 (response rate, 74.5\%) farms revealed that 44,130 animals died or were euthanized, while 8,033 animals with milder symptoms recovered. The overall death rate in all animals at risk was 21.7\%. The death rates were significantly higher in blue and shadow foxes (24.2 and 27.8\%, respectively) than in silver and blue silver foxes and minks (below 4\%). All minks had been immunized against botulinum toxin type C. Deaths were associated with feed manufactured by a local processor, 83 of whose customer farms (70.9\%) reported dead or sick animals. Five feedlots out of 19 delivered to the farms on the day preceding the onset of the outbreak (day 2) were associated with a death rate higher than 40\%. These feedlots consisted of fresh feed processed on day 2 and feed processed 1 day earlier (day 1). In laboratory analysis, the day 2 feed contained botulinum toxin type C (>600 minimum lethal doses/g), while the day 1 feed did not contain toxin. Toxin was not detected in feed raw-material samples. Clostridium botulinum type C was detected by PCR in some feed components and in feed. However, as the feed temperature was continuously 8 degrees C or below and the pH was continuously 5.6 or below according to the manufacturer, it seems unlikely that spore germination and toxin formation occurred during overnight storage. Hence, the events leading to toxin formation were not determined.
This article was published in J Clin Microbiol
and referenced in Journal of Bioterrorism & Biodefense