A POSSIBLE SOURCE OF BRAIN ABSCESSES IN BULL MOOSE
Keywords:abscesses, brain, cervids, males, moose
ABSTRACT: The presence of cranial infections and abscessations is well documented in males of multiple cervids in North America. The preponderance of such infections is related directly to antlers and all processes from antler growth, fighting, and through to casting. One proposed infection pathway is through an open wound at the pedicle formed at casting. Moose generally do not cast antlers in synchrony, and we propose that males irritated by the imbalance of a remaining antler are more likely to actively remove that antler by striking trees. This behavior is a possible explanation for the occurrence of cast antlers with attached bone and that antlers from bulls of all ages can have substantial amounts of parietal bone attached. The force of this activity may cause breakage of the parietal bone leaving either an opening to the meninges in the cranial vault or a significant depression in the bone. We propose that shed antlers with measurable parietal bone attached, estimated as high as 10% of cast moose antlers, would create abnormally large wounds and possibly an enhanced route of cranial infection and subsequent abscessations.
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