US Fish & Wildlife Service



Date of this Version



Published by US Fish and Wildlife Service (1953) 13 pp.


Over the years, the disease, avian botulism, has been an important factor limiting populations of waterfowl, particularly in the West. Great numbers (doubtless millions) of ducks have died from this disease, and because of such heavy tolls, studies of the malady were begun early in the century and continued intermittently to the present time.

This summary brings up to 1950 the series of investigations on botulism by Wetmore (1918), Kalmbach (1930, 1932), Kalmbach and Gunderson (1934), Sperry (1947), and others. This information has been compiled as a service to those concerned with conservation of our waterfowl resources. A cooperative agreement between the Fish and Wildlife Service of the Department of the Interior and the Microbiological Laboratory of the United States Public Health Service, for the resumption of intensified studies of this malady suggests the need of such a summary at this time.

The problem of avian botulism is an exceptionally involved one. Ideas about its cause and control have changed with the passing of time, and current concepts may be revised as studies continue. Consequently, finality has been avoided in interpretation of results of the various investigators.