Elk hoof disease found in Idaho for 1st time, officials say

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A disease that afflicts elk and leaves their hooves broken and deformed has been found in Idaho for the first time, officials said.

The state Department of Fish and Game has confirmed a case of treponema associated hoof disease in an animal killed by a hunter near White Bird last year, the department announced over the weekend.

It’s a bacterial infection that was first identified in neighboring Washington in 2000 and later in northwest Oregon.

“TAHD is caused by a spirochete bacterium that causes hoof abnormalities and lameness in elk,” Fish and Game said.

The bacteria causes lesions or ulcers that can cause the hooves to become misshapen, broken or overgrown and lead to limping, Washington wildlife officials said.

There’s no sign that the bacteria affects meat or organs, and Idaho officials said there is no known risk to people.

“Fish and Game has been communicating with us out of professional courtesy but also out of an abundance of caution,” said Chanel Tewalt, spokeswoman for the Idaho State Department of Agriculture.

Tewalt said the agency has heard no indication of similar issues in Idaho livestock.

It’s not clear how the illness passes between animals, and no vaccine exists to prevent or treat it, Washington officials said.

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