Swedish experts baffled by 'mystery' elk illness
Published: 10 Aug 2012 09:47 GMT+02:00
Updated: 10 Aug 2012 09:47 GMT+02:00
The elk population around Blekinge in southern Sweden has been threatened by an unexplained disease.
14 adult elk have recently been found in the woods in severe states of paralysis, emaciation and blindness.
The blindness has resulted in some falling victim to traffic accidents; however experts have been left scratching their heads at to what is actually causing the illness.
“There is no scientific explanation,” said Lennart Balk of the Stockholm University to the Aftonbladet newspaper.
Balk has been researching the mortality of elk, and has pointed to the tens of thousands of wild birds that have also died in the area by a lack of thiamine, or vitamine B1, as a possible link.
“We see that the elk are infected with the same clinical symptomatology, but it is too early to say whether it's the same disease,” he said.
Meanwhile, the National Veterinary Institute (Statens veterinärmedicinska anstalt, SVA) is making an investigation into the deaths, but is yet to find any concrete results.
Viral and parasitic infections have been ruled out, and so have possible contaminants in the environment.
“It’s a mystery. These are animals that are in good condition. They are confused, and the one bull we had in was emaciated. We don’t know what’s causing it,” said Torsten Mörner of the SVA to the paper, adding that it’s “strange” that something would stop an elk from eating over the summer.