An adult male muskox (Ovibos moschatus), harvested on 26 August 2014 on Victoria Island, Nunavut, in the Canadian Arctic, had proliferative dermatitis on the muzzle and fetlocks suggestive of contagious ecthyma or orf (Parapoxvirus). Histopathologic features of the lesions were consistent with this diagnosis. Orf virus DNA, phylogenetically similar to an isolate from a captive muskox of the Minnesota Zoo, US, was detected in the lesions by PCR using Parapoxvirus primers. Additionally, there was a metaphyseal abscess with a cortical fistula in the right metacarpus from which Brucella suis biovar 4 was isolated and identification supported by PCR. Brucella spp. antibodies were detected in serum. Finally, 212 nodules were dissected from the lungs. Fecal analysis and lung examination demonstrated co-infection with the lungworms Umingmakstrongylus pallikuukensis and Varestrongylus eleguneniensis. The zoonotic potential of orf and rangiferine brucellosis adds an important public health dimension to this case, particularly given that muskoxen are a valuable source of food for Arctic residents. Careful examination of these pathogens at a population level is needed as they may contribute to muskox population decline and potentially constitute a driver of food insecurity for local communities. This case underscores the importance of wildlife health surveillance as a management tool to conserve wildlife populations and maintain food security in subsistence-oriented communities.
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Vol. 52 • No. 3