April 3, 2004
Fish and Game biologist are asking people who live in areas populated by moose to keep their eye out for sick or dead moose so they can take biological samples to see if the deaths are related.
The parasite poses no health risk for people, livestock or dogs.It is passed from moose through larvae shed in moose feces that then penetrate a snail. Months later, another moose incidentally swallows the snail while browsing and becomes infected.
One and possibly two of the seven moose found dead so far apparently stumbled and fell repeatedly before dying. After tissue samples were collected and analyzed, one was found to be infected with a worm previously unknown to affect moose in Alaska.
Tissue samples from the other five moose are still being analyzed and results should be available within a month.
Wildlife veterinarian Kimberlee Beckmen is unsure if the parasite will turn out to be a new species but it is the first report for this type of parasite in the tissues of a moose in the state.
"We have not documented this type of worm causing disease or death in Alaskan moose in the past, but that may be because we haven't looked closely enough," Beckmen said. "We need to study more samples to determine it it's a new occurrence, or if it's been here all along."
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