AXTELL—The Bureau of Land Management says 25 wild burros that died in an off-range corral in Axtell appear to have contracted a rare virus.
The deaths occurred after 236 wild burros were gathered last April and May from the Sinbad Herd Management Area, which is about 30 miles west of Green River, and brought to Axtell.
“Soon after being captured and held in captivity, an increased mortality began to occur from unknown causes,” a BLM report says. “By the end of June, a total of about 25 animals had died from a variety of causes. ”
After exhaustive work, the Utah State Animal Diagnostic Lab and Utah State veterinarian determined that the deaths were related to a chronic viral pneumonia characterized by pulmonary fibrosis (a lung disease that can result in lung scarring, interfering with an animal’s ability to breathe), the BLM report says.
The BLM suspected a viral cause of mortality in the animals, the report says, but tests for the common equine herpes virus Types 1 and 4 were negative, as was testing for equine influenza.
However, the BLM report said, an uncommon Asinine herpes virus has been tentatively identified. Additional tests are being done to try to identify the specific Asinine herpes virus involved.
“We are still waiting on some DNA testing results,” Gus Warr, BLM-Utah’s wild horse and burro program manager, said.
No deaths have occurred in the Sinbad burros since early July, and all appear to be healthy.
According to Warr, in coordination with the Utah State veterinarian, the Axtell facility has been cleared for adoption and shipping of healthy burros.