Disease outbreak in Banks Island muskox

(Photo from Flickr Creative Commons user soxophone player)

An outbreak of erysipelas has killed at least 100 muskox on N.W.T.’s Banks Island.

Wildlife officials say preliminary lab results suggest erysipelas bacteria are causing the deaths. The disease is typically found in livestock such as pigs (where it is known as ‘diamond skin disease’) and domestic turkeys, but has also been found in other birds and mammals.  Contact with the bacteria, (Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae) can also cause disease in humans (erysipeloid) which causes skin lesions and could lead to blood poisoning if left untreated.

This is the first time the disease has been seen in muskox in the N.W.T., however, there is at least one previous record of this infection in Canadian wild ungulates. Three moose calves found dead in the spring of 1989 in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario were heavily infected with E. rhusiopathiae. They also suffered from severe infection with winter ticks, hair loss and malnutrition, suggesting a possible relationship between stress and lethal infection with this bacterium. (Journal of Wildlife Diseases 1994. 30 (3): 436-438. http://www.jwildlifedis.org/content/30/3/436.full.pdf+html).

CBC News – www.cbc.ca

For the full news article please see: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/story/2012/07/28/north-muskox-disease-sachs.html


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