Suspected outbreak of Avian Botulism at Waimanu Lagoons, Waikanae

A number of dead birds have been discovered at the Waimanu Lagoons, Waikanae. It is suspected that avian botulism, a disease that causes paralysis and death in birds, is the cause. It is expected that the outbreak will extend to Waikanae Scientific Estuary Reserve, due to the proximity and movement of birds between sites. Caution is advised at both locations.

Avian botulism does not pose a major risk to humans, however it can make cats and dogs very sick if they eat a dead bird infected with the disease.

Most outbreaks of avian botulism occur during summer when there is less oxygen in waterways due to lower water levels. This causes decaying plant growth and the perfect microclimate for the disease. Outbreaks are managed through the removal of infected carcasses, and the disease generally runs its course once cooler weather arrives.

Kāpiti Coast District Council (KCDC) staff are visiting the area daily to remove dead animals and dispose of them. They also tested water from the lagoon water earlier in the week and confirmed there is no toxic algae present. They are taking additional measures to protect the public such as erecting signage at the site.  

What should you do?

  • Keep yourself and your animals away from any dead birds you find in or near waterways.
  • Phone KCDC on 04 296 4700 or 0800 486 486 so they can remove and dispose of the carcasses safely.

For more information on avian botulism www.kapiticoast.govt.nz/our-district/our-environment/biodiversity/sustaining-and-restoring-our-environment/avian-botulism