Managing Botulism


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Botulism is a paralysing disease of cattle. It is a severe and fatal disease caused by a potent nerve toxin produced by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum.

  • Type C and D botulinum are the most common cause of botulism in Australia. In severe cases cattle can die in less than 24 hours without signs of illness.
  • In northern Australia cattle chew on carcasses and bones – this is the principle source of botulism toxin.

Botulinum outbreaks have caused losses of up to 25% of the herd on some properties and may significantly increase the herd death rate by up to 10-20% annually1

  • Most cases of botulism are never observed– cattle simply go missing.

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References: 1. Fitzpatrick S. Agnote K29. Botulism Poisoning in Cattle in the Northern Territory, September 2006.