Avian botulism confirmed as cause of Laysan duck deaths

PAPAHANAUMOKUAKEA (KHNL) - Health officials have confirmed avian botulism caused of the death of at least 134 Laysan ducks on Midway Atoll in Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument.

Officials found the toxin in all eight samples sent for analysis at its facility in Wisconsin.

With this finding, managers are taking extra steps to control the outbreak.  They are draining the catchment wetland where most of the deaths have occurred to eliminate toxin production.

"Now that we knowwe are dealing with avian botulism rather than something like avian influenza that could spead to humans, we can include more people in the search for dead birds without compromising safety," said Matt Brown, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's acting refuge manager at Midway.

The first duck was discovered on August 10.  A total of 126 adult and adolescent birds have been found dead, mostly on Sand Island.