Date of this Version
Brain worm is the common name for a disease of caribou that was first recognized in Central Newfoundland in the 1970's and has since been seen in other caribou herds including most recently the caribou of the Southern Avalon. Its more scientific name is Cerebrospinal Elaphostrongylosis (CSE) and is caused by the nematode Elaphostrongylus rangiferi.
Infection can cause severe illness and death in affected animals and has a particularly strong impact on herds that have not been previously exposed to this parasite.
As this is primarily a disease of caribou, there is no direct public health threat to humans. Moose can carry the worm and will sometimes develop signs of illness. In Scandinavia there are reports that sheep and goats that graze on contaminated pasture can become sick. There are however no such reports in Newfoundland from areas where both sheep and caribou graze.