Officials Confirm First-Ever Rabid Moose In Alaska, Prompting An Increase In Rabies Surveillance

[Not moose described in the story] (Credit: Shutterstock)

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Officials in Alaska have confirmed the first-ever moose to be infected with rabies within the state, prompting authorities to vow an increase in rabies surveillance.

On June 2, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) in Nome was alerted to a moose that was acting “aggressively towards people,” according to June 7 a press release. When authorities located the animal they found it was “unbalanced, stumbling, drooling profusely, and had bare patches of skin.” After consulting with ADF&G wildlife veterinarian Dr. Kimberlee Beckmen, authorities killed the moose and had it tested for rabies, the release stated. (RELATED: Massive Moose Charges A Person In Terrifying Viral Video)

“That moose was being aggressive towards people and charging and getting a little bit too close to comfort for them,” Alaska Wildlife Biologist Sara Germain told WECT News. “So because those are all signs of rabies, we decided to dispatch the animal and take the head and some other samples to try and see what was wrong with it.”

The Alaska State Virology Laboratory detected rabies in the moose’s brain on June 5, the press release stated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) further confirmed the presence of rabies the following day, announcing that the virus was an Arctic Fox variant of the disease, the release continued.

Though there have been moose diagnosed with rabies in Europe, this is the first instance of a moose being diagnosed with rabies not just in Alaska but in all of North America. Though officials are confident a rabies outbreak is not imminent among the greater moose population due to the solitary nature of the animal, the case has prompted officials to increase its rabies surveillance throughout the state, according to the press release.

“We’re going to begin testing all mammals that come out of Northwest Alaska, and other parts of the endemic region, for fox rabies,” Beckmen told WECT News. “So that includes Southwest Alaska, the Alaska Peninsula, and the North Slope. We’ll test all mammals now.”