Disease outbreak in Banks Island muskox

It's believed at least 100 muskox are dead, and likely more, from a bacterial disease that's typically found in livestock such as pigs.

At least 100 animals dead from erysipelas

An outbreak of erysipelas has killed at least 100 muskox so far on N.W.T.’s Banks Island. (CBC)

An outbreak of erysipelas has killed at least 100 muskox on N.W.T.’s Banks Island.

Wildlife officials say preliminary lab results suggest erysipelas bacteria are causing the deaths. The disease is typically found in livestock such as pigs. 

This is the first time the disease has been seen in muskox in the N.W.T.

"Some of them have had evidence of their feet were thrashing and stuff, also their stomachs were still full, which indicates it was a fairly rapid onset of the disease," said Marsha Branigan, a manager of wildlife management with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Inuvik.

Branigan is encouraging people in Sachs Harbour, the only community on the island, to report any carcass sightings. 

She’s also cautioning people not to hunt sick animals, or hunt or drink water near them.

Humans can contract the illness but they can be treated with antibiotics. Symptoms include throbbing or itchy hands.