MOVI Documented in Additional Species, Dr Highland
Respiratory Pathogen "Movi" Documented in Additional Species in Alaska is Also Implicated in Alaska Caribou Death
- ADF&G Press Release

Sam Cotten, Commissioner
P.O. Box 115526
Juneau, Alaska 99811-5526

Press Release: June 15, 2018
CONTACT: Bruce Dale, Division Director, (907) 861-2101,
Respiratory Pathogen "Movi" Documented in Additional Species in Alaska is Also Implicated in Alaska Caribou Death
Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae ("Movi") is a respiratory bacterium that can cause disease in susceptible hosts. Previously thought to be host-restricted to sheep and goat species, scientists have identified Movi for the first time in healthy moose and caribou in Alaska; a bison in Montana; mule deer in New Mexico, and diseased white-tailed deer from the upper Midwest. These results are in review for publication and one of the papers' co-authors, Dr. Margaret Highland, will be presenting the findings in the afternoon of June 15th at the Idaho Veterinary Medical Association Summer Meeting in Lewiston, Idaho.
ADF&G veterinarian Dr Kimberlee Beckmen, one co-author, said "these are novel findings of this organism, not only in species that are not related to sheep or goats, but also that it was found in apparently disease-free moose and caribou."
In addition to these findings showing the presence of Movi in moose and caribou, ADF&G now also reports another first for Alaska: a necropsy determined that a bronchopneumonia was the ultimate cause of death in an emaciated caribou found dead on May 16 during routine radiotracking of the Fortymile caribou herd. Lung samples from the caribou sent to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Pullman, Washington tested positive for Movi. This is the same bacteria recently detected for the first time in healthy Alaska Dall's sheep and mountain goats.
"This is the first case where Movi has been implicated in respiratory disease in Alaska," said Bruce Dale, director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation.
Movi is considered a pathogen because it impairs hosts' respiratory cilia from clearing bacteria that enter the lungs normally at each breath; it has been linked to sporadic pneumonia outbreaks in Lower 48 bighorn sheep. The pathogen does not pose a health risk to humans.
"Finding Movi in Alaska's wild sheep and goats, and now also in caribou and moose is groundbreaking," said Dale, "We obviously have much to learn about the extent and implications of this pathogen in Alaska."
Dale cautions that respiratory disease is not uncommon in caribou but is not a driving factor in caribou population dynamics. Also, the presence of Movi in an animal does not mean it is or will become sick. More than 100 known Mycoplasma species exist, including Movi, and evidence suggests that virulence — the ability to infect and cause disease — varies between Movi strains. The ability of Movi to cause pneumonia is impacted by the presence of other pathogens as well as multiple stressors including poor nutritional condition (as was the case with this caribou) and/or environmental factors such as extreme weather.
Findings in Alaska Dall sheep and mountain goats so far have confirmed Movi detection in 13 of 136 Dall sheep tested in Game Management Units 12, 13A, 20A, 25C, 26B, and 26C; and in five of 39 mountain goats, all in Unit 15B. None of those 13 sheep or 5 goats showed signs of respiratory illness. Of the 230 moose and 243 caribou sampled for this recent study, 5 moose and 6 caribou tested positive for Movi.
The department will continue to investigate respiratory pathogens including Movi through surveillance efforts in Dall sheep, mountain goats, and other Alaska wildlife in collaboration with the USDA Animal Disease Research Unit and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory. The department's veterinarian, Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen noted that "Our staff's vigilance in investigating mortalities and collecting and transporting samples for thorough diagnostic work up made the caribou discovery possible."
Here is a link to another in depth article. It is frightening how the WSF turns this into a goat issue.
Goatberries Happen!
Wow. So now they're saying sheep and goats are responsible for spreading Movi to all these other species, and that those species are now in danger. How can they know which species gave it to which? Do they have ANY proof that Movi started with domestic animals? How do they know this bacteria isn't native to the western hemisphere? And still there is NO discussion as to why so many animals flourish despite carrying this bacteria around with them all the time. Do they really believe that all wildlife can and should exist in a sterile environment? Do they believe these animals lived in a sterile environment before the arrival of the White Man? They compare these diseases to smallpox killing the natives, but that was hundreds of years ago. Since domestic animals have now been here hundreds of years, there's no reason why bacteria that was introduced back then would only just now begin to pose a threat in the 21st century. It's insane.
"WSF urges the American public to contact their representatives to demand that the USDA direct appropriate financial and human resources to this disease threat, and that the USDA adopt policies to protect wild sheep, other wildlife, and cattle from these threatening and often-deadly domestic sheep and goat-borne pathogens."

Yup, and now our packgoats are going to threaten all the bovines. We carnivores are going to be very hungry. Holy-moly how can you argue with these people. USDA evidence is irrelevant to them, all that matter is sensationalism.
".... and cattle" - Honi soit qui mal y pense or "ein Schelm, wer Böses dabei denkt" (a rogue who thinks evil)
Sabine from Germany
[Image: zoVgi.gif]

GF&P keeping eye on fatal disease in new species
By Mark Watson Black Hills Pioneer    Jun 26, 2018

Several bighorn sheep from the Lead-Deadwood herd have tested positive for a pneumonia-causing bacteria that has decimated some herds throughout the West. Pioneer file photo by Vicki Strickland
SPEARFISH — The report of a well-known disease being discovered for the first time in new species has some employees of the South Dakota Game, Fish, and Parks keeping their eyes out for additional studies.
A story published last week by the Associated Press reported that Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae has been identified in several species of ungulates including bison, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose and caribou. The report has been submitted by wildlife officials; however, it has not yet been published in a scientific journal which would mean the study would be more accepted by the scientific community.
Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae is the disease that has decimated bighorn sheep herds throughout the West including the Custer State Park herd.
“We certainly have our eye on it, and we’d want to see more testing and see what they find before what we can say what that means for bighorn sheep management,” said John Kanta, regional terrestrial resources supervisor with the GF&P.
Previously thought to only effect sheep and goats, both wild and domestic, the new findings may be a game-changer.
The disease may have contributed to the death of an emaciated caribou from the Fortymile herd near Fairbanks, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game said.
Lung samples of the caribou found dead last month were sent to the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Pullman, Washington, where the disease was confirmed.
Four Alaska caribou herds have tested positive for the bacterium, but sickness has not been observed, said Bruce Dale, the director of the state Division of Wildlife Conservation. Stored samples from the Fortymile caribou herd from 2013-14 have also tested positive for Movi, he said.
“It’s been around for a while — it’s not like we’re expecting this to be rampantly present,” Dale said. “There’s been lots of cases of pneumonia in our caribou studies — never associated with Movi before, but always associated with being in poor condition.”
“What we don’t know if it is impacting other ungulates in the same way as it does  bighorn sheep. There seems to be some indication that it does,” Kanta said.
He said there are two scenarios that would both be bad.
First, the disease would affect other ungulate species as much as the bighorns causing them to die; and secondly, the animals would be carriers of the disease that could then pass it along to bighorns and mountain goats.
“Worst-case scenario is that these animals can get Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae just like bighorn sheep,” Kanta said.
No other species in South Dakota has tested positively for the disease; however, the GF&P hasn’t tested for the disease and its staff handle the lion’s share of wildlife disease testing.
If, and that’s a big if, Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae can be transmitted from one species, such as deer, to bighorn sheep, it may explain how the Deadwood herd of bighorn sheep contracted the disease.
“That’s definitely where this raises an eyebrow,” Kanta said.
In February 2015, members of the GF&P traveled to Alberta, Canada to capture and relocate bighorns to the slopes around Deadwood. Twenty-six animals were captured and all were tested for diseases, including Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, before they were transported to South Dakota. A little more than a year later, the first transported bighorn tested positive for the disease.
About 20 of the Deadwood bighorns have died presumably from pneumonia, Kanta said.
“It’s nothing where we’re going to take it to the bank, but if what they’re reporting is true, that definitely has implications and would possibly explain other scenarios like Deadwood,” Kanta said. “We didn’t think we had any domestics, so where the heck did they get it. Well, possibly another ungulate.”
There may be a silver lining in eradicating the disease in individual herds.
In 2004, the Custer State Park bighorns contracted the disease. It killed 70-80 percent of the park’s 2,000 bighorns. Wildlife managers discovered only a handful of the sheep shed the pathogens, or transmitted, the disease to other animals.
Two years ago, wildlife managers discovered there were only three bighorns in the herd that shed the disease and were responsible for killing most if not all the lambs of the year.
Those three were removed from the herd, and to date, not a single bighorn in the park has died due to the pneumonia
This is a refreshing article. No finger pointing. Just truly trying to figure out the puzzle.
Goatberries Happen!
I really wish they would include pieces of this puzzle such as the long-term effect of chasing, darting, and netting wild sheep for research. I also wish they would take a serious look at the health of herds that have been relocated and established from other herds vs. herds that have never been relocated. I also think they need to give serious consideration to the practice of hazing wild sheep to keep them away from domestic animals. They are concerned about disease but seem to overlook the fact that animals must be allowed to roam freely if they are to stay healthy. How do we know these sheep aren't being hazed away from vital resources such as mineral licks or certain types of plants? And if they don't wander far from one area, that area is bound to become over-grazed and parasite-laden. It's quite possible that the "trigger" for disease outbreaks may in fact start with a parasite load. I think if the officials spent less time meddling with the wild sheep, they might very well see healthier herds with fewer devastating disease outbreaks.
You bring up a lot of excellent points, Nanno. I never see comments on the possibility of these affecting the bighorns in articles. I think they probably consider it "managing" the bighorns.
Goatberries Happen!

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