COLUMBUS – Testing of Ohio’s deer herd has found no evidence of chronic wasting disease (CWD), a degenerative disease that affects elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
Test samples from deer brought by hunters to check stations during the deer gun season, Dec. 2 through 8, were collected by state officials and tested by the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s Animal Disease Diagnostics Laboratory.
“Laboratory tests by the Department of Agriculture did not detect the presence of chronic wasting disease in Ohio’s deer herd,” said Steve Gray, chief of the ODNR Division of Wildlife. “We are pleased with this news, however, we will continue our intensive monitoring to safeguard the state’s deer population.”
CWD, a disease of the brain affecting antlered animals such as white-tailed deer, is fatal to afflicted deer.
Since the disease was discovered in the western United States more than 30 years ago, there has been no evidence that the disease can be transmitted to humans. Members of the deer family, such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk, are the only known animals susceptible to the disease. No warnings have been issued by the Centers for Disease Control or the Ohio Department of Health with regard to CWD and eating deer meat.
CWD belongs to a group of related diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs), which includes diseases such as scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in cattle and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) in humans. There is no evidence that CWD affects humans. CWD is not the same as CJD or BSE (mad cow disease). TSEs are thought to be caused by abnormal proteins, called prions, in the brain. There is currently no treatment or vaccine available.
CWD has never been found in Ohio. As of January 2003, it had been diagnosed in wild or captive deer or elk in Colorado, Wyoming, Wisconsin, South Dakota, New Mexico, Utah, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Illinois, Kansas and Montana.
ODNR will continue monitoring the health of Ohio’s deer herd throughout the year. For the latest information on Chronic Wasting Disease, visit the Ohio Department of Agriculture’s web site at www.state.oh.us/agr and follow the links to “Animal Diseases” and “Chronic Wasting Disease.”