As cases of elk hoof disease spread, WSU veterinarians leading research efforts

As cases of elk hoof disease spread, WSU veterinarians leading research efforts
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As elk hoof disease cases continue to spread, now crossing the Cascades with a case being found recently in Eastern Washington and Western Idaho, veterinarians at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine are gearing up for additional extensive research efforts.

” Its not a local problem anymore, it is something that we all need to be concerned about, ” said Dr. Margaret Wild. She notes that historically, the disease had been limited to only a few cases on the west side of the state.

The disease, sometimes called hoof rot, is crippling.

” They get sores or ulcers on their foot and the hoof can become overgrown and even slough off completely, ” she said, ” of course that is really painful to the animal. Often people will see them limping and they can die. ”

She says as cases increase, now is the time to dig into this, as very little is known about the disease, not even the cause.

Researchers note that a particular bacteria may be a contributing factor, but don’t think that it causes the disease on its own.

” We need to be concerned about this now, getting it under control now and earlier in the disease is when we might actually be able to do something about it, ” Wild said, ” as opposed to when its widespread and having population level effects. At that point it will be too late and much more difficult to control the disease. ”

The university is currently finalizing plans of the construction of a new facility for a captive elk herd, that would allow researchers to further study the disease.

For more information click here to go the WSU School of Veterinary Medicine website.

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