Rare disease found in Wyoming antelope

Photo credit: Dreamstime

Yesterday, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) confirmed a rare disease outbreak in antelope in western Wyoming. Working with the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, preliminary tests show that Mycoplasma bovis is the pathogen behind the deaths of approximately 200 animals since mid-February, according to the agency. WGFD is still trying to identify the source of the bacteria and prevalence of the outbreak. However, the outbreak appears to be centered around the southern end of the Mesa south of Pinedale.

Mycoplasma bovis is not the same as Mycobacterium bovis, which is what causes tuberculosis in cattle.

“While reported M. bovis outbreaks causing mortality in wildlife are rare, this is not the first occurrence of M. bovis being linked to pronghorn mortalities in Wyoming,” said WGFD Wildlife Disease Specialist Hank Edwards.

Previous outbreaks of pneumonia in antelope happened in 2019 and 2020 and killed at least 460 animals. These outbreaks began around a similar time – mid-February – and ended in early April, according to the agency

To date, the bacteria impacting antelope has not been linked to other wildlife mortalities in the state. It has also not been shown to affect domestic animals like horses, dogs or cats nor does it pose a human health risk.


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