The prevalence of Clostridium botulinum type C (% of positive sediment samples) was determined in 10 marshes at Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (SNWR), located in the Central Valley of California (USA), where avian botulism epizootics occur regularly. Fifty-two percent of 2,200 sediment samples collected over an 18-mo period contained C. botulinum type C (both neurotoxic and aneurotoxic) which was present throughout the year in all 10 marshes. The prevalence of C. botulinum type C was similar in marshes with either high or low botulism losses in the previous 5 yr. Marshes with avian botulism mortality during the study had similar prevalences as marshes with no mortality. However, the prevalence of C. botulinum type C was higher in marshes that remained flooded all year (permanent) compared with marshes that were drained in the spring and reflooded in the fall (seasonal). The prevalence of C. botulinum type C declined in seasonal marshes during the dry period. Similar declines did not occur in the permanently flooded marshes.
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Vol. 29 • No. 4