FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Officials say a respiratory pathogen previously believed to be restricted to sheep and goats has been detected in Alaska moose and caribou.
Scientists have identified Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae, known as Movi, in other animal species for the first time, including a bison in Montana and mule deer in New Mexico.
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game says Movi may have contributed to the death of a caribou in the Forty-mile herd last month.
Tests confirmed the pathogen's presence in the caribou's lungs.
Division of Wildlife Conservation Director, Bruce Dale, says four Alaska herds have tested positive for the bacterium, but sickness has not been spotted.
He says the pathogen may have been in caribou for a while, but it is not believed to be "rampantly present."
"We are very concerned; however, people shouldn't be overly alarmed. We don't know a whole lot but we do know that, you know, in the last five years or so we haven't had a major change or really any change in the patterns of mortality we see in all of our studies in wildlife across the state."
If you have any questions or concerns, you can call the Alaska Department of Fish and Game at 459-7200.