Botulism Suspected In Lagoons

STAFFORD – The death of about a dozen ducks following an algae bloom in some Beach Haven West lagoons was likely caused by botulism, officials said.

According to the Center for Disease Control, botulism is caused by a toxin released by a bacteria. It attacks the body’s nerves and in some situations, it can be fatal. It forms naturally under certain conditions.

Those conditions were met in some of the lagoons in the Beach Haven West section of town, said Lawrence Hajna, spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. There was a lot of rain, and the stormwater washed into the lagoons, creating an algae bloom. This bloom drained the lagoons of oxygen. Coupled with the lack of circulation that happens in manmade lagoons, an environment was created that would allow botulism to grow.

There were 11 ducks that died in the area, he said. Some of the carcasses were taken for a necropsy. Although it would take a few days for the results to come in, the DEP stated that botulism is the main suspect right now.

“We’ve seen this happen before,” he said.

A warning posted on the township’s website stated that the contamination was in the Village Harbor section of Beach Haven West and told residents not to swim in any of the lagoons for now.