Ontario Scientists Test Water Samples for Botulism

Aug. 25, 2004

A public beach in eastern Ontario remained closed Tuesday as provincial officials began testing dozens of water samples and dead wildlife washed ashore from Lake Ontario.

Although testing won't be completed for several days, a Natural Resources Ministry official said botulism poisoning may be responsible for the unusually high number of dead birds, fish and other wildlife along the half-kilometre stretch of the beach.

The beach in this picturesque town along Lake Ontario, about a half-hour's drive south of Belleville, was closed Monday by health authorities in the Hastings and Prince Edward Counties Health Unit.

Samples of the dead birds including cormorants and gulls, fish like carp, gobies and sheepshead, and other wildlife were sent to the University of Guelph for testing, with results not expected until early next week.

Raw water samples from a water-treatment plant in Wellington and from an algae bloom off the shore arrived Tuesday morning at the Environment Ministry's lab in Toronto for testing.

Testing on water samples that began Tuesday "on a high-priority basis" at an Environment Ministry lab in Toronto won't be completed until the end of this week.

There are various forms of botulism poisoning, which is caused by the bacteria Clostridium botulinum naturally found in lake soil.

Botulism has been a problem in recent years in large numbers of fish and birds dying in Lake Erie and Lake Huron.

Source: Canadia Press

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