HUNTINGTON BEACH (CBSLA) – Several Western gulls which were found dead on Huntington Beach last month have unexpectedly tested positive for a type of botulism which is more commonly detected in humans.

A Western gull which was found ill on Huntington Beach is treated after being infected with botulism. November 2019. (Wetland and Wildlife Care Center/Facebook)

The nonprofit Wetland and Wildlife Care Center (WWCC) initially reported that eight Western gulls were discovered dead, and four more in critical condition, on Oct. 10 at high tide on Huntington Beach.

The four gulls found alive were unable to move or close their eyes. One of them died and the other three survived after being cared for by WWCC staff.

The University of California, Davis conducted necropsies on five of the deceased gulls and discovered that they had the toxin botulism type A, which is more common in humans and often caused by improperly canned food, the WWCC reported Friday.

In a news release, the WWCC explained that gulls infected with botulism usually have type C or type E.

Over the past few weeks, five more gulls have been brought in to WWCC showing similar symptoms. Two of those have since died.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, botulism is a rare bacterial illness in which a toxin attacks the body’s nerves. It can cause difficulty breathes, muscle paralysis and even death. It can be transmitted through contaminated foods or if the spores of the bacteria get into a wound.

The WWCC is asking the public to bring any gulls they see to their animal hospital, which is located at 21900 Pacific Coast Highway.


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