|Starting in the summer of 1999, unusual numbers of dead fish and dead birds have
been observed along parts of the Lake Erie shoreline. In summer 2002, dead mudpuppies, an aquatic salamander,
and sheepshead have washed up along the Lake Erie shore. In addition, some dead birds have been observed.
It appears that Type E botulism (Clostridium botultnum) is a cause of the death of many of these fish. There
have been no reports of any human illness associated with past outbreaks.
Type E botulism is a specific botulism strain most commonly affecting fish-eating birds. It is a paralytic,
often fatal disease in animals that results from the ingestion of the toxin produced by the botulism
bacteria. This type of botulism can be harmful to humans and other mammals if they consume birds or
fish that have been poisoned by the toxin or the flesh of an infected animals.
Anglers should not harvest or take any fish that are sick, dying or acting abnormally. Cooking may not always
destroy the botulism toxin. Do not handle dead or dying fish or birds. If you must handle them, use gloves. Play it
safe; never eat a fish or waterfowl that you have found dead or dying.
Do not eat undercooked or improperly prepared fish. Wear rubber or plastic protective gloves while filleting,
field dressing, or skinning. Hands, utensils and work surfaces should be washed before and after handling
any raw food including fish and game meat. Fish and game should be kept cool (with ice or refrigerated
or 7ºC) until filleted or butchered and then should be refrigerated or frozen. Fish and other seafood should
be thoroughly cooked.