On Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th, I went grouse hunting up along the road to the White Alice site. On Saturday, I shot 6 spruce grouse and 2 ptarmigan. When I was cleaning the first grouse, I ripped open the breast and there were worms squiggling around on top of the breast meat. Three of the six grouse had these long, skinny, white worms on the meat. On Sunday the 7th, all four of the grouse had worms on or in the meat. Two had worms coming out of the meat instead of just being coiled on top of the meat. I love hunting and eating grouse. It's a food source of the community. I am concerned about the health of the birds and the safety of the meat for food.
Comments from LEO Editors:
We are currently working with Victoria, ADFG, and UAF Wildlife Toxicology Lab and others to help identify the type of worm, and we are surveying other members of the LEO network for any additional information on this type of event. Victoria has been in contact with Richard Merizon, ADFG. Mr. Merizon stated in an email to Victoria, "I have checked with our state veterinarian on your photos. The worms in the photos are some kind of filaroid, transmitted bird to bird by a biting arthropod via microscopic larvae. Humans are not susceptible (the worm itself is not infectious to anything, bird or human). The presence of the parasite does not affect the edibility of the bird." Victoria is sending the frozen birds to the Wildlife Toxicology Lab at UAF for necropsy and the worms will be removed and send to Colorado State University for identification. M. Brubaker
We have completed step 1 of the grouse parasite investigation. Today we necropsied seven birds. Three of 7 had the subcutaneous parasites that were of interest to Sissy and these were collected and placed in 10% buffered formalin. In addition, the gastrointestinal system was collected and placed in 10% buffered formalin. These we will let fix for about 7 days. After that we will place them in a small amount of water for shipping to Colorado State University where Dr. Ballweber's team will work on them. Bird #7 had what appeared to be an ascarid migrating through the proventricular wall and this was saved intact. We are suspicious this may have occurred prior to death based on the presentation of the stomach (discolored and swollen). However, we are not sure. Nina saved the spleen and liver from 6 of the 7 birds for potential use in the molecular surveillance effort. (April 3, 2013)
Update: Colorado State was able to identify the nematode Splendidofilaria pectoralis. This species had been described in blue grouse (Dendragapus obscurus pallidus) in British Columbia, but had never been recorded so far north and west as Unalakleet, Alaska. Though S. pectoralis is not known to pose a significant health risk for people.
For more information on reporting an occurrence or to submit a sample for identification/analysis you can visit the ADF&G website or contact email@example.com.
Climate-related environmental changes have increasingly been linked to emerging infectious diseases in wildlife. The Arctic is facing a major ecological transition that is expected to substantially affect animal and human health. Changes in the phenology or environmental conditions that result from climate warming may promote novel species assemblages as host and pathogen ranges expand to previously unoccupied areas. Dec 2014.