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Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
A dead goose lies near the pond at Sugar House Park in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

SALT LAKE CITY — A case of avian botulism has killed several birds at Sugar House Park, but health officials say people have nothing to worry about.

"There is a difference between avian botulism and human botulism," said Dr. Dagmar Vitek, medical director for the Salt Lake Valley Health Department.

Avian botulism is fairly common between July and September, Vitek said.

Bacteria form spores that can survive in soil, she explained. In warm weather, that bacteria start forming toxins. Birds can ingest those toxins and become ill. It happens every year, health officials said.

"The most important thing is for the public to realize if they see a bird die that it's because of avian botulism and not human botulism," Vitek said. "They don't have to be afraid that they're going to be developing the symptoms of botulism."

Those who find a dead bird should leave it alone and call the Utah Division of Wildlife Services at 801-538-4700, she said.

"Don't handle the birds, and don't let children pay with the birds," Vitek said.

Jared Page