Babesia odocoilei infection in a Saskatchewan elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) herd.

An 8-year-old female elk (Cervus elaphus canadensis) cow, presented for chronic severe weight loss and unthriftiness, was diagnosed with Babesia odocoilei infection based on blood smear evaluation, polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and DNA sequence analysis. Subsequently, velvet antler from a male that died acutely on the same farm was also PCR positive for Babesia spp. Both animals originated from a game ranch of Saskatchewan-bred and -raised animals with no known history of tick exposure, but with a history of numerous sudden deaths of unknown etiology. The presence of B. odocoilei in Canada might be a result of a recent introduction that could have deleterious effects on local wild ungulates or may represent discovery of a previously unrecognized endemic disease in local wildlife.

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