About Brucellosis

Brucellosis in elk, bison, and cattle is caused by Brucella abortus. There are a variety of other Brucella species can affect sheep (B. ovis), goats (B. melitensis), pigs, caribou and reindeer (B. suis), dogs (B. canis), and several species of marine mammals.
Signs Of Disease
There are no obvious signs of brucellosis in infected animals. Abortions can occur in the middle trimester of pregnancy. Elk infected with brucellosis may abort between January and June. There are no typical outward signs of Brucellosis in most animals. Males that are infected with brucellosis may have swollen testicles or swollen joints. In chronic infections can lead to infertility in both males and females..
Where is Disease Found?
Brucellosis is found worldwide in livestock, but most countries have control or eradication programs to control or eliminate the disease. Brucellosis has largely been eliminated from domestic livestock in North America. A reservoir of brucellosis occurs in elk and bison in the Greater Yellowstone Area which includes eastern Idaho. Because wild ungulates and cattle share range, disease transmission to domestic cattle is of great concern.
How Can I Protect Myself?
Humans can be infected with brucellosis from exposure to fetal tissue or fluids. Wear personal protection equipment when field dressing elk or when handling aborted fetuses.
Samples to Collect
If there is concern about this condition, contact a conservation officer or an Idaho Department of Fish and Game Regional Office. Appropriate samples can be collected for testing if deemed necessary.
Can I Eat The Meat?
Meat from elk infected with brucellosis can be consumed by humans. Meat should be cooked thoroughly prior to consumption.
What is IDFG doing to help manage this disease?:

Brucellosis was documented in elk in Idaho in 1998. Infected elk are limited to certain areas of eastern Idaho. In 1998, a Wildlife Brucellosis Task Force was formed to develop a management plan for brucellosis in elk and affiliated cattle populations in Idaho.

Currently IDFG is doing the following:

Conducting trapping and testing of elk for brucellosis

Monitoring and managing elk density to decrease the risk of brucellosis transmission to cattle by improving winter range conditions for elk

Working cooperatively with Idaho State Department of Agriculture to minimize elk-cattle interactions during winter feeding of cattle using haystacks, fenced cattle feeding areas, and hazing of elk from cattle wintering areas

Providing public education about the disease