Health Issues Which May Affect This Animal
What Causes This Disease?The bacteria that are commonly associated with abscesses are common in the environment. A variety of bacteria are associated with abscesses in deer and elk including Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis Trueperella pyogenes, Pseudomonas spp., Streptococcus spp. and Staphylococcus spp.. Most abscesses are found in lymph nodes and internal organs and contain thick, greenish yellow or white purulent material.
Where Is The Disease Found?Abscesses occur commonly in many species of wildlife across North America. Abscesses of many origins in many wildlife species have been documented in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseAbscesses are typically characterized by variable sized pockets of pus which can be located anywhere on the body, usually under the skin or in skeletal muscles. In mammals, abscesses do not typically cause illness because the abscess is usually localized. Abscesses that spread along the muscle layers, or into various organs may cause pathological conditions that can be detrimental to the animal's health. In birds, abscesses usually form enlarged spherical areas that may hinder movement or feeding ability. In raptors, the feet are often involved (bumblefoot) and the enlarged areas can result in an inability to stand and to capture prey.
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What Causes This Disease?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.
Where Is The 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.
Signs of DiseaseThere 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..
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What Causes This Disease?Carotid Artery Worm is caused by a parasitic nematode (Elaeophora schneideri) found in white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.
Where Is The Disease Found?Carotid artery worms are widely distributed in the western United States, several southeastern states, and areas of Canada. The parasite has been documented in many parts of Idaho in mule deer, moose and elk..
Signs of DiseaseCarotid artery worms are native parasites of mule deer, but have been found in white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. Most animals show no signs of sickness. However, some animals can exhibit signs including malformed antlers, blindness, muzzle or ear necrosis (destruction), and oral impactions which are caused by the worms restricting blood flow through arteries.
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What Causes This Disease?CWD is a neurologic disorder that causes the brain to degenerate and develop cavities becoming sponge like in appearance. It is caused by abnormally folded proteins called prions. CWD is contagious between animals by either direct or indirect contact with infected animals or their habitat. It is not known if CWD is contagious to people.
Where Is The Disease Found?CWD has been documented in numerous states in the US, several Canadian provinces (Ontario, Saskatchewan, Alberta), South Korea, Norway and Finland in a variety of cervid species. It has been found in both captive and wild cervids. The current distribution of CWD in North America can be found in various links provided here. As of November, 2021, CWD is present in free-ranging deer in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseAnimals infected with CWD are typically thin and show neurologic signs. The most common sign of CWD is lack of feeding, increased drinking and excessive salvation and urination. Behavioral signs include loss of fear of humans and loss of awareness of their surroundings.The most common signs of CWD in live cervids are emaciation and neurological signs. There are no typical lesions seen in animals that die of CWD but consistent signs include poor body condition and aspiration pneumonia.
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What Causes This Disease?Giant liver flukes (Fascioloides magna), also known as the American liver fluke or deer fluke, are flatworms are important parasites of deer, elk and moose in North America. The flukes are a normal parasite in white-tailed deer and occasionally elk.
Where Is The Disease Found?Giant liver flukes are found in mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, and moose in many parts of North America. Giant liver flukes have been documented sporadically in a few mule deer, elk and moose in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseAnimals infected with giant liver flukes generally appear healthy unless large numbers of flukes are present. With large numbers of flukes, generally the liver function is compromised leading to animals in poor body condition. In definitive hosts, flukes are found in yellowish-white fibrous cysts that 1-2 inches across that contain pairs of flukes. A reddish brown liquid is found inside the cysts with the flukes. In animals that are not definitive hosts for giant liver flukes, the flukes can cause significant liver damage and ill thrift or death in severely affected individuals. The flukes continue to migrate in the liver creating numerous tracts and extensive liver damage that can lead to fibrosis and liver failure.
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What Causes This Disease?Hydatids are the immature form of a tapeworm called Echinococcus granulosus. Echinococcus granulosus is a very small (3-5 m) tapeworm that requires two different animal species, a canid and an ungulate, to complete its lifecycle.
Where Is The Disease Found?Hydatid disease is found around the world including North America where it exists in two forms – a domestic form involving domestic dogs and domestic sheep and a sylvatic form involving wolves or coyotes and ungulates. The most common form of E. granulosus is found in domestic dogs and sheep, and is found worldwide, including the western USA. The form in domestic dogs and domestic sheep is the most common source of the disease in humans. There are numerous strains of E .granulosus worldwide that occur in various host species systems e. g. wolves and wild ungulates in temperate North America, dingos and kangaroos in Australia, and jackels and domestic cattle in Africa. Hydatid cysts have been found in cattle and domestic sheep, deer, elk,. moose and mountain goats in Idaho. Adult tapeworms have been found in wolves and coyotes in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseThe adult tapeworm occurs in the intestines of wolves, coyotes and foxes but they are generally asymptomatic. The larval form or hydatid cyst occurs in moose, elk and deer, and can occur in humans. In moose, deer, and elk, the cysts have thick walls and are filled with a clear watery liquid. The cysts are usually found in the lungs but can also occur in the liver or other organs. Cysts can vary in size from ¾ to 4 inches in diameter and contain hundreds of juvenile tapeworms. The presence of hydatids in herbivores usually does not cause clinical signs unless the cyst obstructs normal body function. If cysts rupture, illness can be severe.
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What Causes This Disease?Meningeal worm is a nematode parasite, Parelaphostrongylus tenuis.
Where Is The Disease Found?Meningeal worm is found throughout eastern North America but is usually restricted to east of the 100th meridian. Meningeal worm has not been documented in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseIn the normal host, white-tailed deer, and occasionally elk, the parasite causes no clinical disease. In most elk and other ruminants (domestic sheep and goats, mule deer, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats), the abnormal migration of the L3 causes paresis of the limbs that can lead to paralysis and death.
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What Causes This Disease?The most common pathogens in bighorn sheep are respiratory bacteria Pasteurella haemolytica or Pasteurella multocida, and Mycoplasma ovipneumonia but respiratory viruses like Infectious Bovine Rhinovirus, Parainfluenza virus, Bovine Respiratory Syncytial Virus, or parasites like lungworms can contribute to pneumonia in bighorns. There is evidence in captive and free-ranging bighorn sheep that transmission can occur after contact with domestic sheep or goats. Other species of ruminants can develop pneumonia from Pasteurellacae and other bacteria including Arcanobacter spp., Corynebacterium pseudotuberculosis, and Trueprella pyogenes as well as a variety of respiratory viruses. Lungworms can also be associated with pneumonia.
Where Is The Disease Found?Generally, pneumonia is a problem in bighorn sheep and to a lesser extent in deer and elk. Pneumonia in bighorn sheep has been found throughout North America. In Idaho, pneumonia in bighorns has been found in all areas where bighorn sheep exist. Isolated cases of pneumonia have been documented in mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, moose, pronghorn and mountain goats in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseClinical signs of pneumonia in ruminants include coughing, shortness of breath, and a weakened condition. Generally, animals with pneumonia will have discolored lungs possibly with adhesions to the rib cage or abscesses. In trials of captive bighorn sheep that are inoculated with Pasteurellaceae bacteria, survival is generally less than 2-3 days. Depending on the bacterial pathogen present, the nutritional and immune status of the individual, and other factors, affects range from chronic pneumonia in adult females, summer lamb mortality events and ill thrift to rapid whole herd mortality events . Often the mortality events are found by hunters or during herd surveys when carcasses or skeletons are found. Similar signs of disease occur in other ruminants affected by pneumonia but pneumonia in other species of ruminants tends to occur in single individuals rather than on a herd basis.
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What Causes This Disease?Several species of tapeworm produce cystercerci in the intermediate host. The most common in cervids is Taenia hydatigena, but other species including T. pissiformis and T. krabbei.
Where Is The Disease Found?Tapeworm cystercerci are found in appropriate ruminant hosts across most of North America. They are commonly reported in ungulates in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseCystercerci are usually small bladders, approximately 0.5-2 cm in diameter, containing fluid and a single larval tapeworm. The location of the cystercerci depends on the tapeworm species and the host species. Taenia hydatigena and T. pissiformis typically form cystercerci in the mesenteries or the liver. Taenia krabbei typically forms cystercerci in the skeletal muscle. There also may be white, star-like scars on the surface of the liver from the migration of larval tapeworms. Carnivores like wolves, coyotes and foxes are the definitive host of the adult tapeworms and usually appear healthy even though they may be infected with large numbers of tapeworms.
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What Causes This Disease?Treponeme-Associated Hoof Disease (TAHD) in elk is associated with a spirochete bacterium, Treponema spp.
Where Is The Disease Found?TAHD in elk is a relatively new condition in elk. Elk with hoof problems were first recognized in southwestern Washington in about 2000 with a dramatic increase in the number of affected animals reported in 2008. Since 2008, extensive surveillance by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife has confirmed TAHD in elk in 14 counties in western Washington with scattered but unconfirmed cases in eastern Washington. TAHD was found in elk in Oregon in 2014 in an initial cluster in northwest Oregon. Since then, confirmed cases have been found in several areas of western Oregon with scattered unconfirmed cases in eastern Oregon. In December 2018, an adult female elk killed by a hunter near White Bird, Idaho in GMU 14 was found to have obvious foot abnormalities. The lower leg was submitted for diagnostic testing and TAHD was confirmed in this animal.
Signs of DiseaseAnimals affected by TAHD may be deficient in trace minerals like copper and/or selenium. The disease affects males and females of all age cohorts. Affected elk of all ages are lame with various degrees of deformed to elongated hooves, or with broken or missing hooves.
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What Causes This Disease?Winter ticks are a one-host tick of ungulates. Large numbers of ticks can cause anemia due to blood loss, hair loss due to excessive grooming, and poor body condition due to inadequate food intake.
Where Is The Disease Found?Winter ticks are present in nearly all areas of ungulate distribution in North America except for Alaska. Winter ticks have been identified in most ungulate species in Idaho.
Signs of DiseaseWinter ticks are usually not seen on animals in the larval or nymphal stages as these are relatively small. The adult males and females are the same size as typical wood ticks. The engorged adult females can be 1-2 cm in diameter. Moose, elk and deer with large numbers of winter ticks often lose significant amounts of hair, especially in late winter. Some of these animals may be lethargic and appear weak from loss of blood, hypothermia and inadequate nutrition.
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March 22, 2021 - 2:12 PM MDT
March 15, 2021 - 10:36 AM MDT
Through February, winter survival is tracking close to last year's numbers. It's good news if that trend continues, because survival of both mule deer fawns and elk calves in 2019-20 ended up above-average at the end of the monitoring period. But threats to wintering wildlife are not over for 2020-21, and a lot can change in March and April.
March 8, 2021 - 11:25 AM MST
February 25, 2021 - 12:17 PM MST
Elk seminars will highlight the results of the Wildlife Habitat Restoration Initiative along with presentations on the history of elk and elk management in the basin, the Idaho Fish and Game elk management plan, and how these research results are being used by managers.
February 16, 2021 - 12:37 PM MST
Surveying big game herds from helicopters is a commonly known method for counting animals, but biologists have other methods available that they use to monitor herds and track population trends.
February 9, 2021 - 11:19 AM MST
For the third year in a row, a large group of elk have moved from their historic wintering area in Teton Canyon and have followed the river down towards Sugar City and Rexburg. The elk have been sighted near Highway 20 and Highway 33 and are a cause for concern to passing motorists.