Aspects of the migratory life cycle and pathogenesis of Elaphostrongylus alces were studied in 7 randomly selected moose calves and 7 yearlings killed during August to November. One calf and 1 yearling were uninfected. The 6 infected calves had recent infections, whereas the 6 yearlings showed older infections from the summer of the previous year. The 2 calves killed in September had a total of 26 adult E. alces in the epidural space of the caudal vertebral canal and none in the skeletal muscles, whereas the remaining calves killed 1 to 2 mo later had 25 nematodes in the caudal and cranial vertebral canal and 7 in the skeletal muscles. The yearlings had a total of 101 adult E. alces in the skeletal muscles and 2 in the vertebral canal. There were no findings indicating involvement of the central nervous system in the life cycle of E. alces. Our findings suggest that E. alces migrates directly from the gut to the epidural space of the caudal vertebral canal where development to the adult stage takes place. During development, the nematode produces inflammation of the epidural tissue and spinal nerves. Development in the caudal vertebral canal is followed by some anterior dispersion of nematodes along the canal, and migration into skeletal muscles. Here the nematodes seem to live in reproductive pairs and groups. The predilection site for E. alces in moose is the muscles of the thigh.
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