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North America's first known case of a rabid moose confirmed in western Alaska

A moose in western Alaska has tested positive for rabies in the first apparent case of a rabid moose in North America, state game officials said.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials began receiving reports of a moose acting aggressively toward people in the community of Teller, located about 70 miles northwest of Nome on the Bering Sea coast, on June 2.

“It was drooling and being very aggressive towards people and it was wobbly, unstable on its legs,” Kimberlee Beckmen, a Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian told the Anchorage Daily News. “That was very unusual behavior.”

After consulting with Beckmen, department staff members killed the moose because of its aggressive behavior and signs indicative of a rabies infection. The carcass was burned to prevent the virus from spreading to scavengers.

The western Alaska case is the first in North America, according to national database records dating from the 1950s.

Alaska Fox News graphic

North America’s first known case of a rabid moose has been confirmed in western Alaska. 

This past winter was the largest outbreak the department had detected, including a large number of red foxes in the Nome area. Beckmen said 29% of the foxes sampled had rabies. That meant higher exposure to rabies for dogs that got into fights with foxes, Beckmen said.

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The virus can affect and be fatal for humans, but the CDC says only up to three human cases are reported annually in the U.S.

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