ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today announced that a farmed whitetailed deer from a Lac Qui Parle County herd tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

The brain stem and lymph nodes from a 10-year-old female white-tailed deer were submitted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, after the animal was euthanized due to illness. NVSL confirmed the animal had CWD. The Board of Animal Health quarantined the herd on March 14, 2006. This quarantine means no cervidae (members of the deer and elk family) can move on or off the farm. Meanwhile, officials continue to investigate the source of the infection and whether other cervidae may have been exposed.

In 2003, Minnesota implemented mandatory registration and CWD surveillance programs for farmed deer and elk herds. When farmed deer or elk die or are slaughtered, herd owners must submit brain samples for CWD testing. The herd from which the CWD positive animal came has been registered with the state since 1997.

CWD is a fatal brain and nervous system disease found in elk and deer in certain parts of North America. The disease is caused by an abnormally shaped protein called a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. Infected animals show progressive loss of body weight with accompanying behavioral changes. In later stages of the disease, infected animals become emaciated (thus “wasting” disease). Other signs include staggering, consuming large amounts of water, excessive urination, and drooling.

According to state health officials and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.

In addition to Minnesota’s case, CWD has been found in farmed deer or elk in Colorado, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Montana, Wyoming, Wisconsin, New York, and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada. Cases have been found in wild deer or elk in Wisconsin, Wyoming, Colorado, South Dakota, Nebraska, New Mexico, Utah, Illinois, West Virginia, New York, Kansas, and Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.

For more information on CWD and the BAH, visit their website at www.bah.state.mn.us.