Efficacy of detection canines for avian botulism surveillance and mitigation

Conservation Science and Practice
By: , and 



Hawai'i's endangered waterbirds have experienced epizootics caused by ingestion of prey that accumulated a botulinum neurotoxin produced by the anaerobic bacterium Clostridium botulinum (avian botulism; Type C). Waterbird carcasses, necrophagous flies, and their larvae initiate and spread avian botulism, a food-borne paralytic disease lethal to waterbirds. Each new carcass has potential to develop toxin-accumulating necrophagous vectors amplifying outbreaks and killing hundreds of endangered waterbirds. Early carcass removal is an effective mitigation strategy for preventing avian intoxication, toxin concentration in necrophagous and secondary food webs, and reducing the magnitude of epizootics. However, rapid detection of carcasses can be problematic and labor intensive. Therefore, we tested a new method using scent detection canines for avian botulism surveillance on Kaua'i Island. During operational surveillance and a randomized double-blind field trial, trained detector canines with experienced field handlers improved carcass detection probability, especially in dense vegetation. Detector canines could be combined with conventional surveillance to optimize search strategies for carcass removal and are a useful tool to reduce risks of the initiation and propagation of avian botulism.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Efficacy of detection canines for avian botulism surveillance and mitigation
Series title Conservation Science and Practice
DOI 10.1111/csp2.397
Volume 3
Issue 6
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center
Description e397, 18 p.
Country United States
State Hawaii
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