Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Food poisoning and gastroenteritis

Type C bovine botulism outbreak due to carcass contaminated non-acidified silage

J. MYLLYKOSKIa1 c1, M. LINDSTRÖMa1, R. KETO-TIMONENa1, H. SÖDERHOLMa1, J. JAKALAa2, H. KALLIOa3, A. SUKURAa3 and H. KORKEALAa1

a1 Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland

a2 Municipality of Urjala, Finland

a3 Department of Basic Veterinary Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland

SUMMARY

The first reported bovine botulism outbreak in Finland is described. Nine out of 90 cattle on a dairy farm died after being fed non-acidified silage contaminated by animal carcasses. Type C botulinum neurotoxin gene was detected in one heifer by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and the neurotoxin was detected by the mouse bioassay. Clostridium botulinum type C was isolated from liver samples. The isolated strain was identified with amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis as group III C. botulinum. To our knowledge, this is the first time that a type C bovine botulism outbreak has been diagnosed by PCR and confirmed by subsequent isolation and AFLP identification of the disease strain. The importance of the acidification process in silage production to inhibit C. botulinum toxin production in silage and thus to prevent further botulism outbreaks is emphasized. Nevertheless, preformed toxin in the carcass is not destroyed by acid.

(Accepted June 02 2008)

(Online publication July 07 2008)

Correspondence:

c1 Author for correspondence: Dr J. Myllykoski, Department of Food and Environmental Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, PO Box 66, 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. (Email: jan.myllykoski@helsinki.fi)

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