BOTULISM has been confirmed as the ‘most likely cause’ of the deaths of more than 100 cows from a Jersey dairy herd.
The Island’s chief vet said test results from samples of feed consumed by cattle at Woodlands Farm in St Helier showed evidence of toxin-producing bacteria that caused the vast majority of the farm’s ‘group A’ herd to die in the space of a few days in mid-December.
Initial testing led to a government statement last month about a working theory into the incident, without any specific cause being mentioned, but further details have been shared following the receipt of further results late last week.
Chief vet Susana Ramos said: ‘Botulism has been our main working theory throughout. It’s characterised by progressive muscle weakness. Cattle are extremely sensitive to the toxin, and in most cases it is fatal.
‘Botulism is notoriously hard to test for, and diagnosis is often based primarily on the clinical signs and by ruling out other possible causes.
‘Despite no toxin being found, there was the presence of bacterial spores, and we believe that these results, coupled with the exclusion of notifiable diseases, and the signs reported at the time at the farm, all combine to suggest botulism as the most likely cause of death.’