|Adam holding sick Laysan Duck|
Botulism (botch-uh-lih-zum) is a kind of food poisoning. It's caused by a bacterium called Clostridium, and they love places with low oxygen, like old cans of green beans. If you ever see a can of beans that's "outdated" (meaning: beyond the date marked on the can), DON'T EAT THE BEANS! Clostridium bacteria make a poison that attaches to nerves. Then the nerves can't control muscles, and people get sick. Sometimes botulism attacks the nerves that connect to breathing muscles, and people die!
Midway Map in FOAM's top menu bar.) Look at the picture at the right. Notice that the duck's eye is closed? That's because the Clostridium is probably in the nerves for the eyelid muscles, and the duck just can't open its eye. Adam brought the sick duck to the USFWS office where it was treated by Fish and Wildlife staff.
|John Klavitter, wildlife scientist|
First it was given a shot of "antitoxin," a medicine that will fight the botulism poison. Next, John Klavitter gave the duck some food (Ensure, with lots of soy protein) and Pedialyte (electrolytes, or different kinds of salt.) The duck was held in a small, clean towel while it was carried to the aviary, which is a cage or enclosure for birds.) You can see the duck peeking out of the towel with its left eye open; that's a good sign!
In the aviary, the towel became a bed for the sick duck. Since the duck's nerves and muscles aren't healthy, the rolled towel propped up the duck's head. Perhaps you can see the duck in its towel-nest under the "A-frame" within the aviary. When the duck got healthy enough to eat on its own, there were bowls of water and food right next to it.
After several days in the sick bay aviary, with daily care, the duck was healthy and ready to be released. Ray Born carried the duck outdoors and put it into a special water area, which is more protected from sun and large albatross than the 20 wetland areas around Midway. Good news; after several hours the duck had left the protected water area, free to travel anywhere on the island!
(If you're interested in learning more about avian botulism, please visit the National Wildlife Health Center.)