By Associated Press - Monday, March 16, 2020

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) - More than 50 pronghorn have died in Wyoming from the bacteria that killed more than 75 of the animals last year, wildlife officials said.

The outbreak near Gillette is under investigation by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory, The Gillette News Record reported Sunday.

Pronghorn resemble antelope and are indigenous to North America.

The deaths were noted beginning in February and officials have initially blamed Mycoplasma bovis.

The pathogen is not considered a human health risk and has not been shown to affect domestic pets like dogs, cats or horses.

The source of infection, the possible duration and the geographic distribution of the outbreak among pronghorn are so far unknown, officials said.

“While outbreaks causing mortality in wildlife are rare, this is not the first occurrence of (Mycoplasma) bovis being linked to pronghorn mortalities in Wyoming,” state wildlife disease specialist Terry Creekmore said.

The Gillette area experienced a similar outbreak in 2019 involving more than 75 animals that tapered within a few months.

The bacteria has not caused significant mortality in other Wyoming wildlife populations, officials said.

A similarly named but different bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis, causes bovine tuberculosis and wasn’t detected in the antelope.

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