Yearly Archives: 2011

Chronic Wasting Disease Not Detected in Ohio Deer

CWD testing performed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture

For the ninth straight year, testing of Ohio’s deer herd has found no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD), a degenerative brain disease that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife, state and federal agriculture and wildlife officials collected 588 samples last year from hunter-harvested deer from 44 counties, primarily during the deer-gun season that ran November 29 – December 5. All CWD testing is performed at the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory of the Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA). Additional CWD samples are being taken from road-killed deer, but those test results are not yet available. Sampling continues through April. In addition to CWD, all 588 samples of the hunter-harvested deer samples were also tested for bovine tuberculosis. Results found no evidence of this disease in Ohio deer. Since 2002, the Division of Wildlife, in conjunction with ODA’s Division of Animal Industry and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife and Veterinary Services, has been conducting surveillance throughout the state for CWD and bovine tuberculosis. While CWD has never been found in Ohio’s deer herd, it had been diagnosed in wild and captive deer, moose or elk in 16 other states and two Canadian provinces. Since CWD was discovered in the western United States in the late 1960s, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans. The Division of Wildlife continues to carefully monitor the health of Ohio’s wild deer herd throughout the year. For the latest information on CWD, visit or the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance at . To view individual test results, visit the ODA’s Web site.

Federal Laboratory Confirms CWD Diagnosis

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received confirmation from a national laboratory on Jan. 25 verifying that the sample from a southeastern Minnesota white-tailed deer tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The finding by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory at Ames, Iowa, had been expected and confirms a preliminary diagnosis by the University of Minnesota.

The DNR announced on Jan. 21 that a deer harvested by an archer in November 2010 near Pine Island likely would test positive for CWD, a fatal brain disease that affects deer, elk and moose but not cattle or humans.

The DNR is implementing its CWD response plan, the first step of which involves an aerial survey of deer numbers in the Pine Island area. During the next two weeks, DNR will be working with landowners, collecting additional information and will share its plans and findings at a public meeting in February.

Preliminary Test Identifies CWD-Positive Wild Deer in Southeast Minnesota

A preliminary screening test strongly indicates that a deer harvested by a hunter last November near Pine Island in southeast Minnesota had Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). CWD is fatal to deer, elk and moose but not known to affect human health.

If the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirms the University of Minnesota’s preliminary diagnosis, it marks the first time CWD has been found in Minnesota’s wild deer herd. An official confirmation is expected by next week.

“This is very unfortunate,” said Tom Landwehr, DNR commissioner. “Minnesotans have done much to prevent CWD from entering our wild deer population. The good news is that we are well prepared for an attempt to control the disease and to possibly eliminate it.”

The DNR is already implementing the state’s CWD response plan. In the weeks ahead, the DNR will take steps to learn more about how prevalent the disease is in the area and will take actions based on that information.

In states where CWD has become well established, efforts to eliminate it from wild deer populations have been unsuccessful. The disease, if unmanaged, can spread and occur at high enough rates to impact long-term deer populations.

“We found this case of CWD early because we were actively looking for it,” said Landwehr. “Since 2002, we’ve tested more than 32,000 hunter-harvested deer, elk and moose as part of an early detection strategy. We’ve long believed the best way to manage this disease is to find it early and then react quickly.”

The deer presumed to have CWD was taken by a hunter this past fall about three miles southwest of Pine Island in Olmsted County. The hunter allowed the DNR to take a lymph node sample from the deer when he registered it. Recent microscopic analysis of that sample strongly indicates that the animal had CWD. The hunter has been informed of the results. It is not known how the deer contracted the disease.

Lou Cornicelli, DNR big game coordinator, will lead the agency’s CWD response team. He said the critical first step is to conduct an aerial survey to determine the number and distribution of deer in the Pine Island area. Because this area of the state is almost entirely in private ownership, the second step will be to talk with landowners in the area to seek their cooperation in collecting additional samples and to identify where additional samples can be collected.

Sample collection could take the form of a late winter deer hunt, landowner shooting permits, or sharpshooting in conjunction with cooperating landowners who provide permission. The purpose of the sampling is to collect needed additional CWD samples to assess disease distribution, and also to reduce the potential for the disease to spread.

Michelle Carstensen, the DNR’s wildlife health program leader, said the prevalence of CWD is likely low. “We sampled 524 deer this past hunting season in the Pine Island area and found only one that appears to have CWD,” said Carstensen. She added that the DNR did not find CWD in a total of 2,685 samples taken throughout southeastern Minnesota in 2009 or 500 samples taken in 2008 along the Wisconsin border, from Houston County northward to St. Croix State Park in Pine County.

The DNR has been on the lookout for CWD since 2002, when it was first detected at a domestic elk farm in central Minnesota. In recent years it has put additional focus on southeastern Minnesota. That’s because the disease was detected in 2008 at a domestic elk farm near Pine Island, and because southeastern Minnesota abuts Wisconsin which has had CWD for many years. The domestic elk herd at Pine Island was eliminated after a seven-year-old female was found to have CWD. Three other elk were found to have CWD during the removal effort.

Though it is not known exactly how CWD is transmitted, it is thought to be primarily from animal-to-animal by infectious agents in feces, urine or saliva. CWD can also persist in the environment and may be contracted from contaminated soil. The movement of live animals is one of the greatest risk factors in spreading the disease to new areas.

CWD is a fatal, animal brain disease. The National Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization have found no scientific evidence that the disease presents a health risk to humans. Still, the CDC advises against eating animals known to have CWD. The disease is found in 13 other states and two Canadian provinces, including Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Hunter-Killed Elk Test Negative for CWD and Other Diseases

Samples taken from the 41 hunter-killed elk during the state’s 2010 hunting season have all tested negative for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and tuberculosis, according to Dr. Walt Cottrell, the Pennsylvania Game Commission’s wildlife veterinarian.

Cottrell noted that sample collection was greatly facilitated by the tremendous cooperation of the elk hunters and taxidermists. He added that the Game Commission still is awaiting the results of CWD testing for the hunter-killed deer samples collected during the 2010 rifle deer season, and will announce those results once received.

“Currently, there are no confirmed or suspected cases of CWD-infected deer or elk in Pennsylvania,” Cottrell said. “Conducting these tests on hunter-killed deer and elk is one part of the Game Commission’s ongoing efforts to monitor wild deer and elk populations for the presence of CWD.

“We obviously need to keep a watchful eye on our wild and captive deer and elk. Working closely with the state Department of Agriculture and other agency representatives on the state’s CWD Task Force, we hope to protect our state’s wild cervids from this fatal disease.”

CWD tests on the elk samples were conducted by the New Bolton Center, which is the University of Pennsylvania’s veterinary diagnostics laboratory. Under a contract with Penn State University, the elk samples also were tested for brucellosis and bovine tuberculosis and found to be free from these diseases. New Bolton Center also is conducting the CWD tests on the deer samples. Results are expected later this spring.

To learn more about CWD, visit the agency’s website ( and click on the “Wildlife” in menu bar in the banner, then choose “Wildlife Diseases” and click on “Chronic Wasting Disease.”

First Case of Chronic Wasting in 2010 Deer Season Confirmed

White-tailed deer taken in Decatur County Nov. 7; complete results due in spring The Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) has announced the first confirmed case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) found in a deer taken during a 2010 deer season. The animal was the only one of 90 tested by KDWP as of Dec. 8 to show a “presumptive positive” result. Samples of deer tissue taken by KDWP are sent to the K-State Diagnostic Veterinary Lab in Manhattan for preliminary testing. If the K-State lab determines the sample is a presumptive positive, the sample is then sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames, Iowa, for confirmation.

This deer was a 3 ½-year-old male taken in Decatur County by an archery hunter on Nov. 7. Because samples from the January whitetail antlerless only seasons have yet to be collected, complete results of testing won’t be available until March. Last year, 2,738 animals were tested for CWD, including 17 elk, 289 mule deer, and 2,428 white-tailed deer, and four unknown species. Of those samples, 15 were confirmed positive.

Annual testing is part of ongoing effort by KDWP to monitor the prevalence and spread of CWD. The fatal disease was first detected in a wild deer taken in Cheyenne County in 2005. Three infected deer were taken in Decatur County in 2007, 10 tested positive in 2008, and 15 in 2009, all in northwest Kansas.

CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow Disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease in people. CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that results in small holes developing in the brain, giving it a sponge-like appearance under the microscope. An animal may carry the disease without outward indication but in the later stages, signs may include behavioral changes such as decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of response to humans. Anyone who discovers a sick or suspect deer should contact the nearest KDWP office.

There is no vaccine or other biological method that prevents the spread of CWD. However, there is no evidence that CWD in the natural environment poses a risk to humans or livestock. Still, precautions should be taken. Hunters are advised not to eat meat from animals known to be infected, and common sense precautions are advised when field dressing and processing meat from animals taken in areas where CWD is found. More information on CWD can be found on KDWP’s website, or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website,