More than 100 deer were collected as part of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources surveillance effort looking for chronic wasting disease near Harpers Ferry in late February and early March.
Tissue samples from 85 of the adult deer collected were sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab in Ames for testing and all 85 samples came back as not detected. All collectors have been notified of the results.
“Landowners and local residents were outstanding with cooperation to help secure deer samples in this intensive surveillance effort,” reported Terry Haindfield, Iowa DNR wildlife biologist in northeast Iowa. “Weather extremes went from 25 below zero to 65 degrees above, affecting collecting success. The DNR greatly appreciates the public’s interest and the effort they put into helping collect deer for the additional samples.”
Although the number of samples collected was less than the goal of 200, the results are encouraging and suggest that CWD may not be established at a significant level. However, continued surveillance will be needed in order to provide a better picture of the prevalence of CWD on the landscape.
The DNR has scheduled a public meeting in the Harpers Ferry Community Center, 238 North Fourth Street, at 6:30 p.m. on April 16 to solicit input and begin planning for continued surveillance this summer and fall.
CWD is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. It is caused by an abnormal protein–a prion–that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. It is always fatal, when an animal contracts it. The additional data is important, to determine the next course of action to slow the disease spread in Iowa.
The four Allamakee samples, which prompted this winter’s special collection, are the only CWD-positive returns on 55,000 samples of wild Iowa deer taken since 2002.