Occurrence of Clostridium botulinum type E in shellfish, lake fish and aquatic sediments in the Northwest Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/pg15bh211

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  • Comparatively little work has been done to determine the ecology of Clostridium botulinum type E since its initial isolation in the nineteen-thirties. This spore forming, anaerobic microorganism is relatively heat labile and has been missed in ecological surveys in which heat was used to selectively screen for spore formers. Use of gentler methods has, however, facilitated its demonstration in marine sediments throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The type E organism elaborates a highly potent neurotoxin and has been isolated as the causative agent in recent fatalities involving the consumption of fish products. Until recently the organism was not believed to be present in the United States south of the Canadian border. The purpose of this investigation was to determine if the organism could be demonstrated in shellfish, inland lake fish, and sediment samples throughout the Northwest. Samples of coastal shellfish-- including various species of clams, crabs and oysters, varieties of smoked fish products, species of inland lake fish and inland lake, river and coastal sediment samples were examined for the presence of the type E organism. The organism was found, to some extent, in almost every type of sample tested. Type E toxin was demonstrated in incubated samples of shellfish and smoked fish products collected from eleven sites along the Oregon and Washington coast. The organism was found in shore sediments from the tidewater and freshwater areas of the Columbia, Alsea, and Umpqua rivers but could not be demonstrated in sediments taken from saltwater beaches at the mouths of these rivers. The type E organism was also demonstrated in fish from inland lakes in the Oregon Cascade Mountains, in sediments from the shores of these lakes, and along the shores of a river and three reservoirs in this area. These samples were collected between 95 and 120 linear miles from the coast. The isolation of the type E botulinum organism in fish and shellfish products demonstrates that the organism does present a potential hazard which should be recognized by Northwest processors and distributors of these products. High concentrations of the spores of this organism, such as those found in bottom sediments of some of the inland lakes and reservoirs may serve to contaminate fish and other wildlife. Much of the data collected supports a terrestial distribution of the spores.
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