January 25, 2013

In the Spotlight: Past Wildlife Disease Investigation from Wildlife Disease Association

A Wildlife Disease Investigation Case from the Wildlife Disease Association Newsletter
January 2013 Issue

Rabid Wolverine in Alaska
Adapted from report written by Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen, AK Dept of Fish and Game

The first recorded case of rabies in a wolverine (Gulo gulo) in North America was diagnosed this summer by Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Wildlife Conservation (ADFG DWC) Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen.

Photo Credit: Steve Kroschel / FWS
The wolverine was found dead in June 2012 by ADFG wildlife biologists while flying a helicopter northwest of Umiat on the North Slope of AlaskaClick link to view location on GeoNames]. The frozen carcass was completely intact, with no scavenging or visible signs of trauma, so it was flown to Fairbanks for necropsy. The wolverine had a recent, non-fatal wolf bite to the masseter muscle of the jaw.

The diagnosis was made possible through an expanded rabies surveillance initiative in Alaska that allows screening of large numbers of wildlife specimens via the dRIT (direct rapid immunohistochemical test) method. The Centers for Disease Control recently confirmed the wolverine was suffering from an arctic fox (Vulpes lagopus) strain of rabies.

Rabies is endemic in arctic fox only along Alaska’s coast but frequently spills over to red fox, sometimes in epidemic numbers of cases. In the past two years ADFG has tested more than 600 animals, including hundreds of foxes, more than 100 wolves, 19 bats and four wolverines. Of the samples tested, 2.8 percent tested positive for rabies, representing foxes exclusively with the exception of this one wolverine.

Source: WDA Newsletter - January 2013 Issue [pdf]

Is Your Wildlife Health Organization Doing Interesting Wildlife Disease Related Research? Go Ahead - Toot Your Own Horn!

Do you want to use the Wildlife Disease News Digest to share information about interesting wildlife disease research happening within your organization/agencies? Email the details or links to the description of the research (e.g. annual reports, web pages, newsletters, and press releases) to us at digest@wdin.org.

If it fits the scope of the Digest (i.e. related to wildlife disease), we will feature it in a future post. Your fellow Digest readers are very interested to hear from you!

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