An epizootic of Aujeszky's disease (pseudorabies) in four captive European brown bears (Ursus arctos) in November 1994, in the Val di Non, Trentino Region, Italy, was linked to consumption of raw pork. Affected animals had severe pruritus resulting in self-mutilation, and all four died within 24 hr after onset of clinical signs. Aujeszky's disease virus was isolated on first passage from the brain and was characterized by means of restriction endonuclease analysis. Based on these data, we believe that bears are extremely susceptible to the disease, and that wildlife managers should consider pseudorabies as a potential risk for the captive and wild bear populations.
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Vol. 33 • No. 3