Elk Mystery Illness - A
From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Science's best and brightest can not tell us "WHAT" is paralyzing and kill off Wyoming Elk? They can only tell us what is not doing so. Scientists are focusing on naturally occurring elements that might be responsible and are not even considering the obvious, non-naturally occurring causes.
One of the main theories is a plant toxin that is a result of area drought. If this theory is correct, then we would see deer, wild horses and other animals affected by the toxin.
The obvious, the cause that the scientists and EXPERTS are overlooking is "deliberate" infection of the elk. Elk are the hardiest of cervids and should have been the animals less likely to die off. IF starvation, winter stress or preditors stressed out the elk to the extent of this "strange" illness, why aren't there other animals in similar situation. Winter stress and starvation would also affect other cervids, such as deer.
Another reason I believe that we are seeing an unnatural means of infection is the fact that ONLY females are effected. It appears as though, female elks have been targeted. It is also possible that we are looking at sexually transmitted origin which would mean that only elk are affected. I have not heard the experts mention this possibility.
If this is a test of a species specific pathogen, experimenters would probably have found a way to infect a few male elk, thus setting the stage for the males to pass on the "illness" to females. In other words, the females become "dead end hosts." As they die out the "pathogen" dies with them and does not become reinfected into the male elk who spend the winter in higher altitudes etc.
Of course, should the EXPERTS pursue this trend of reasoning they would then have to admit that "someone" is experimenting with a sexually transmitted, species specific target bioweapon. I don't think science or the EXPERTS wish to admit such experimentation ongoing. ...ergo we may NEVER find cause and origin of the Elk illness undcovered. Like so many mystery illnesses in the past, cause will remain undiagnosed and "under investigation."
UNDIAGNOSED DEATHS, CERVIDS - WYOMING
A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases http://www.isid.org
 Date: 13 Mar 2004 From: ProMED-mail <email@example.com> Source: NY Times [edited] <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/13/science/13ELK.html>
Mystery Disease Fells Hundreds of Wyoming Elk --------------------------- Since a coyote hunter found 2 paralyzed elk near here [Rawlings, Wyoming] on 8 Feb 2004, close to 300 elk have been felled by a mysterious illness that no one can identify.
Wildlife officers have euthanized about 200 of those animals after finding them starving, dehydrated and unable to move. They took 4 into captivity to try to nurse them to health and learn more about their illness. [Only one of the four is still alive.]
"I've never seen anything like this, never even heard of a large die-off in elk in this extreme," said Joe Nemick, a wildlife management coordinator who has been with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for 37 years. "Elk are generally pretty hardy animals."
Experts here are looking into a range of potential causes. Did the elk ingest a poison? Did they experience stress from being chased?
About 800 elk typically spend the winter in this region, along the southern edge of the Red Desert and west of the Continental Divide, about 150 miles west of Cheyenne. So do wild horses, antelope, deer and some grazing cattle. No other animals appear to be afflicted, including hundreds of elk nearby. An estimated 100,000 elk live throughout Wyoming.
After weeks of studying the elk, wildlife biologists and veterinarians have compiled a list of what did not make the animals sick, and a shorter list of remaining possibilities.
"This may turn out not to be a single problem, and there may be several elements involved," said Dr. Walt Cook, a wildlife veterinarian for the Game and Fish Department. "We may never be able to point to a single cause for why this happened."
Dr. Cook and other biologists have ruled out chronic wasting disease, brucellosis and other bacterial and viral diseases; poisoning by a toxic metal, by toxins in drinking water or from coal-bed methane gas drilling; salt poisoning; calcium or magnesium deficiency; and parasites.
The research is now focused on the possibility that drought conditions in recent years produced a toxin in a plant, on a plant or in the soil. Another theory is that a stress caused the elk to overexert themselves.
"The focus now is on something naturally occurring," said Tom Reed, a spokesman for the Game and Fish Department. "We feel kind of powerless. What's going to happen next year if a herd moves in there?"
A puzzling sign is the muscle lesions on the animals' hind legs. They could indicate a long chase, though there have been no tracks to support that. Or the lesions could be a result of paralysis, rather than a cause.
"I've seen stuff like this before, but this is the first time in elk," said Dr. Merl Raisbeck, a toxicology professor at the University of Wyoming who is working on the cases. "It's a mystery, all right, and I'd like to know what the heck it is."
[By: Mindy Sink]
-- ProMED-mail <firstname.lastname@example.org>
******  Date: 13 Mar 2004 From: "Banks, A-Lan" <A-Lan.Banks@thomson.com> Source: Green River Star, Wyoming, 11 Mar 2004 [edited] <http://www.greenriverstar.com/articles/2004/03/10/news/news1.txt>
The number of elk dying from a mysterious affliction continues to climb. With 9 more reported dead in the past week brings the total to 289, according to Tom Reed of the Wyoming Game and Fish department.
"It's slowed down some but elk are still dying," Reed said.
Four of the elk displaying apparent paralysis and loss of leg muscle control were transported to the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie. Three of those have died, Reed said. "When they're getting hay and water and still dying, it raises more questions," he said.
Game and Fish [G & F] Department veterinarians hoped they might gain insight into the mysterious malady from observing how the afflicted elk responded to various treatments.
"They were given all kinds of supplements and still died so we've pretty much eliminated some type of deficiency," Reed said.
The state veterinarian and the G&F officials continue to direct all available resources to trying to determine the cause for elk deaths, first reported on 8 Feb 2004 when a coyote hunter found 2 elk approximately 15 miles from Rawlins that were alive but unable to move.
"We're still keying in on some sort of toxin. Many things have been eliminated like insecticides. It's a slow process but eventually something will just pop up," Reed said.
Personnel have now ruled out calcium deficiency, chronic wasting disease, bacterial and common viral infections, tick paralysis, meningeal and carotid artery worm as causes. Mercury poisoning, selenium toxicity, many of the common plant toxins, a variety of metals and salt, nitrate and sulfate poisoning have also been eliminated.
Another thing officials have dismissed is that someone ran the animals to death. Reed said that theory is pretty much off the table.
"For one thing, if that had happened, elk wouldn't still be going down," Reed said, adding it would be impossible to chase them with snowmobiles because there is no snow.
He also said chasing them with a vehicle would be near impossible because of the rugged terrain and mud.
Reed said areas 21 and 108 where the afflicted elk are located are popular hunt areas, and game and fish will be looking at the number of tags issued for the fall hunt.
"It's uncertain right now, but we may reduce the number of licenses for cows," he said.
-- ProMED-mail <email@example.com>
[This is tragic and baffling. Some of the natural toxicology theories were tried in mice, but mice may be a poor biological model for elk. This appears to too wide spread to be a toxic issue, other than one occurring naturally, as through a plant. - Mod.TG]
[see also: Undiagnosed deaths, cervids - USA (WY): RFI20040228.0620] ....................mpp/tg/mpp
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: http://www.clickitnews.com/ubbthreads/postlist.php?Cat=&Board=emergingdiseases Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God
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to get things going. So any idea what the PHD is in? Anything to do with science and pathology?