Veterinary advice should be sought from your local veterinarian before applying any treatment or vaccine. Not sure who to use? Look up veterinarians who specialize in poultry using our directory listing. Find me a Vet
Other Names: Limberneck, Western Duck Sickness, Bulbar Paralysis, Alkali Disease.
Botulism is a life-threatening disease caused by the toxin produced by the Clostridium botulinum bacteria. Once ingested by the bird, the toxin binds to the nerve endings, which interferes with muscle movements.
Chickens will develop paralysis and weakness of the muscles, usually of the neck. They may also have difficulty swallowing, drooping eyelids, and weakness of the tongue. Affected birds may appear lame and only able to stand up and walk a few steps before falling. When the wings are affected, the bird may have both of their wings drooped to their sides. The speed of progression varies, depending on the amount of the toxin ingested and the form of the disease. Usually botulism signs develop within 24 hours to 17 days after exposure to the toxin.
How do chickens get botulism?
Botulism spores are widespread in the environment and can be found in dust, soil, untreated water, decaying matter, spoiled feed, and the digestive tracts of animals and fish. Maggots can also harbor C. botulinum. Foods that have led to botulism outbreaks include vegetables preserved by canning or stored in oil, baked potatoes, and honey. Wound botulism usually happens from inoculating botulinum spores which then grow in the inoculation wound and produce toxins.
Case 1: Botulism in a Chickens Botulism was diagnosed in a flock of backyard chickens. 14 out of 16 backyard chickens were found dead or recumbent and barely able to move (“crawling” according to owner). No significant gross or microscopic lesions were seen in birds submitted for necropsy. Clostridium botulinum toxin type A was detected in the liver of one chicken, confirming a diagnosis of type A botulism. Ref
Case 2: Botulism in a Ducks Botulism was diagnosed in ducks from three different locations in southern California; at each location several birds were affected. In one outbreak, type C botulism was confirmed while the type of botulism could not be determined in the other two outbreaks. Ref
Relocate your bird to a quiet, isolated area such as a dog kennel or cat carrier. Provide fresh water in a small container, however making sure it's not too large as birds can easily drown. Limit stress.
Call your veterinarian
Obtain and administer an antitoxin, toxoid vaccine for botulism
Carbo veg (30C for 1 dose) / Nux vomica (30C for 1 dose)