Yearly Archives: 2012

Remaining Deer Samples Negative for CWD

March 5, 2012

The remaining North Dakota deer samples tested for chronic wasting disease are negative, according to Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the State Game and Fish Department. A mule deer doe taken last fall in western Grant County during opening weekend of the deer gun season had tested positive for CWD. In all, more than 2,500 targeted and hunter-harvested samples from 2011 were sent to a lab at Michigan State University.

Since the Game and Fish Department’s sampling efforts began in 2002, more than 22,000 deer, elk and moose have tested negative for CWD. The three deer to test positive were mule deer taken from unit 3F2 in southwestern North Dakota. The first two were during the 2009 and 2010 deer gun seasons. All three were within 15 miles of each other.

The hunter-harvested surveillance program annually collects samples taken from hunter-harvested deer in specific regions of the state. In addition to unit 3F2, samples during the 2011 deer gun season were collected from units in the central third of the state. The Game and Fish Department also has a targeted surveillance program that is an ongoing, year-round effort to test animals found dead or sick. CWD affects the nervous system of members of the deer family and is always fatal. Scientists have found no evidence that CWD can be transmitted naturally to humans or livestock.

Three Kansas Deer Confirmed Positive in Early Stages of CWD Testing

Numbers still low; no known threat to humans or livestock

PRATT — The number of cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) detected in Kansas deer continues to be low and is currently isolated to the northwest part of the state, according to the Shane Hesting, wildlife disease coordinator for the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT). Samples from three white-tailed bucks taken during this year’s hunting season were confirmed positive for CWD in tests completed last week. Counties where the deer were taken include Wallace (new county of detection), Decatur, and Rawlins. KDWPT will continue testing some vehicle-killed and sick or suspect-looking deer, as well as deer taken with depredation permits, through July 31. “This season’s testing results bring the total number of confirmed CWD cases in Kansas to 43 since testing began in 1996,” says Hesting. “About 2,400 samples were collected during the 2011-2012 deer seasons, but testing has been slow, and testing kits are continually on back order. We’re about 35 percent done. More importantly, U.S. Department of Agriculture funding will not be available for collecting and testing samples next season. Without federal financial assistance, surveillance will be very limited and less robust.” Annual testing has been a part of an ongoing effort by KDWPT to monitor the prevalence and spread of CWD. The disease, fatal in wild deer, was first detected in deer taken in Cheyenne County in 2005. 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-Jakob 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 decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of response to humans. “It must be noted that many of the symptoms of CWD are indicative of other diseases,” Hesting explains. “Thus, a sick deer may or may not be infected with CWD. CWD is a serious deer disease but is still rare in Kansas.” All but three of the 43 positive animals detected since 2005 were asymptomatic, meaning 40 animals did not show any symptoms of CWD at the time of collection. Anyone who discovers a sick or suspect deer should contact the nearest KDWP office. There is no vaccine or other biological method that prevents CWD. However, there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or livestock in the natural environment. 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 KDWPT’s website, (Hunting/Big Game Information), or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website,

CWD Found in Two Free-Ranging Deer from Macon County

Two positive results for Chronic Wasting Disease are first for free-ranging deer in Missouri.

JEFFERSON CITY Mo – The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) received two positive test results for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) from 1,077 tissue samples taken from free-ranging deer harvested by hunters in north-central Missouri during the 2011 fall firearms deer season. Both positive test results were from adult bucks harvested by Missouri hunters in Macon County, and are the first CWD-positive results for free-ranging deer in Missouri.

MDC plans to obtain more tissue samples for CWD testing by harvesting additional deer in the immediate area where the two infected deer were harvested.

“Teamwork among landowners, hunters and MDC staff allowed us to detect this infection early,” said MDC Deer Biologist Jason Sumners. “We will be working with local landowners to harvest additional deer for tissue sampling. This is a first step and one of our best hopes for containing, and perhaps even eliminating, what we believe to be a recent localized event.”

MDC staff have contacted the two Missouri hunters who harvested the CWD-positive bucks to inform them of the situation and answer questions.

CWD is a neurological disease that is limited to deer, elk, moose and other members of the deer family, known as “cervids.” CWD is spread by animal-to-animal contact or by animal contact with soil that contains prions from urine, feces or the decomposition of an infected animal. Deer and other cervids with signs of CWD show changes in natural behavior and can exhibit extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, stumbling and tremors. CWD can spread through natural movements of infected animals, transportation of infected live captive animals, or the transportation of infected carcasses.

The Missouri Department of Agriculture (MDA) says there is no evidence from existing research that CWD can spread to domestic livestock, such as sheep or cattle. The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services (MDHSS) says there is no scientific evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans through contact with or the consumption of deer meat.

MDC conducted its tissue-sampling effort during the fall firearms season in November in response to two cases of CWD found in captive white-tailed deer at two private, captive-hunting preserves in Linn and Macon counties. A third captive deer at one of the preserves tested positive for CWD in December. The two earlier cases of CWD found at the private hunting preserves were detected in February 2010 and October 2011. The two free-ranging bucks that tested positive were harvested within two miles of the Macon County preserve.

CWD in deer can only be confirmed by laboratory testing of the brain stem or lymph tissue. Tissue samples collected by MDC were tested by the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study Laboratory of the University of Georgia, Athens, with confirmation by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.

The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. CWD has also been documented in both captive and free-ranging deer in neighboring Kansas and Nebraska. It has been documented in free-ranging deer in neighboring Illinois. CWD has also been documented in both captive and free-ranging members of the deer-family in Colorado, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming also have documented cases of CWD in free-ranging members of the deer family. Michigan and Montana have documented cases of CWD in captive members of the deer family.

CWD is transmitted through prions, which are abnormal proteins that attack the nervous systems of these species. These prions accumulate in the brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, and lymph nodes of infected animals. While there is no scientific evidence that CWD is transmissible to humans or animals other than deer and other cervids, health officials caution that consumption of these parts is not recommended. They also advise people to not eat meat from animals known to be infected with CWD or that exhibit signs of any disease.

While CWD is new to free-ranging deer in Missouri, MDC has been testing for it for years. With the help of hunters, MDC has tested more than 34,000 free-ranging deer for CWD from all parts of the state since 2002.

Missouri also has a Cervid Health Committee to address the threat of CWD to Missouri’s free-ranging and captive cervids. The Committee is composed of wildlife biologists, veterinarians and other animal-health experts from MDC, MDA, MDHSS and the USDA.

CWD Found in Buffalo, Custer, Holt Counties

LINCOLN, Neb. – Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer has appeared for the first time in Buffalo, Custer and Holt counties, according to the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.

There were 1,565 lymph node samples collected from deer taken during the 2011 November firearm deer season, with 26 samples testing positive for CWD. In addition, samples were taken from 37 culled deer that showed clinical symptoms for CWD, with one male mule deer from Garden County testing positive. Those symptoms include a rough, emaciated appearance and a lack of fear of humans.

There were a record 51 positives from 3,645 samples in Nebraska in 2010. However, the surveillance effort was reduced in 2011 due to a lack of funds. The 2011 effort focused on central Nebraska, the leading edge of the disease as it spreads from west to east.

Game and Parks confirmed CWD in the state’s deer population in 2000. CWD is a disease that can affect deer and elk and always is fatal to the affected animal. Humans have never been known to contract CWD.