LINCOLN, Neb. – Preliminary laboratory results show that all 846 eastern Nebraska deer sampled for chronic wasting disease (CWD) tested negative for the deadly brain malady, the Nebraska Game & Parks Commission reported.

Of the 846 white-tailed deer collected during the November firearm season in the eastern one-third of the state, all were negative using the rapid ELISA test, which looks for the presence of prions in the animals’ lymph nodes and can yield results in several hours, rather than days. The ELISA test was recently approved for use in white-tailed deer and had previously been approved for elk and mule deer.

Bruce Morrison, a Commission biologist who heads CWD monitoring and containment efforts, said the long-used IHC test is also being conducted on the animals to ensure the accuracy of the ELISA results. To date, 171 have been tested using the standard test, which detects the presence of prions in the brain stem. All of those have tested negative as well, Morrison said.

“The good news is these results indicate that the disease is not present in eastern Nebraska,” Morrison said. “The Commission will continue to test deer from eastern Nebraska for several years to ensure that we have a full and accurate picture of CWD’s presence in the state.”

The Commission for the first time this year tested animals statewide with a goal of testing at least 100 animals from each of the Commission’s deer management units. More intensive testing is being conducted in the Panhandle region, the only area in the state where the disease has been found.