Environmental samples collected along the coastline and from the interior of Alaska were examined for the presence of Clostridium botulinum. Clostridium botulinum type E was detected in soils from 5 of 12 beaches; in 7 of 115 non-coastal soil samples; in sediments from six of eight locales; in gills of salmon from two fishing areas; and in the feces of 1 of 44 colonic samples from marine mammals. The basic biochemical characteristics of the isolates were determined. Tube tests for demonstrating gelatin liquefaction proved insensitive with these strains, whereas a plate test detected gelatinase in all isolates. The presence of multiple nidi and the continual discharge of organic materials into the environment may contribute to the perpetuation of botulinum spores by which foods prepared form marine animals become contaminated. An emphasis should be placed upon the need for measures to reduce environmental contamination, to reduce contamination during food preparation, and to alert continually the population of the hazard wherever botulism is endemic.
From: Fortuine, Robert et al. 1993. The Health of the Inuit of North America: A Bibliography from the Earliest Times through 1990. University of Alaska Anchorage. Citation number 1847.