Dozens of dead water birds and fish found in Wemmel and the Zuunbeek

Several ducks and other water birds have succumbed at the local municipal pond in Wemmel, west of Brussels. In the Zuunbeek near Brussels, dozens of water birds and fish have also been found dead. They have probably died as a result of botulism, an illness which can occur in dry and hot times like these.  

Botulism is a contagious disease caused by bacteria which thrive in shallow, still waters. It can also occur in Belgium, weather conditions allowing.  

Various dead water birds were discovered along the pond in the Wemmel municipal park. "Unfortunately, there is not a lot we can do for them", says Environment Alderman Vincent Jonckheere. Meanwhile, a pump has been installed in the pond to get the water circulating. 

Humans should not be concerned, but they need to take some precautions, says Jonckheere. "If you spot a dead bird, certainly don't touch it. Keep dogs on a leash. And don't let your dog swim in the pool or drink from it. The disease mainly affects water birds and fish, but it can also touch mammals." The local vet Luc Maes is afraid that Wemmel may be just the first in a series. "The heat and drought will trigger more of these cases." 

The Zuunbeek (Flemish Brabant) has also been touched by botulism. As water levels dropped due to the drought, the water is no longer moving. Various fish and water birds died as a result of botulism; their bodies are being removed as soon as possible.  

Don't touch the dead birds and keep your dog on a leash. Don't let them swim in the pond or drink from it