Today, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources announced that a third free-ranging deer in Meridian Township (Ingham County) has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The deer was a 5-year-old doe. All three CWD-positive deer detected thus far have been discovered within a mile of one another.
“As we stated with the second positive deer, this news is not surprising,” said Dr. Steve Schmitt, DNR wildlife veterinarian. “The good news is that all three deer came from the same small area.” Genetic analyses carried out by Michigan State University’s Molecular Ecology Laboratory indicate that all three positive animals were related as part of an extended family. Previous research has shown that CWD often is transmitted within family groups because of their close contact.
Hunters are critical to helping the DNR understand the prevalence and geographic distribution of the disease.
“We have focused our efforts thus far in the area around the first case,” Schmitt continued. ”We need individuals who have always hunted in Ingham County and surrounding counties to keep hunting. The DNR can’t fight this disease without their support. Hunters need to have their deer checked and tested so we can determine if this disease is established over a broad area or just persisting in a local pocket.”
In addition, it is critical that if an individual hunts outside Michigan in a state or province that has CWD in their free-ranging deer, elk, or moose that only the following parts of deer, elk, or moose carcasses are brought into Michigan:
- Deboned meat.
- Antlers attached to a skull cap cleaned of all brain and muscle tissue.
- Upper canine teeth.
- Finished taxidermy mount.
If a hunter is notified by another state or province that a deer, elk, or moose that was brought into Michigan tested positive for CWD, that hunter must contact the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab within two business days (8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) at 517-336-5030.
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. It is caused by the transmission of infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and other body fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by direct exposure to these fluids, or from environments contaminated with these fluids or the carcass of a diseased animal.
Some chronically CWD-infected animals will display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and physical debilitation. There is no cure; once a deer is infected with CWD, it will die.
To date, there is no evidence that chronic wasting disease presents any risk to non-cervids, including humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend that infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.
The DNR provides CWD weekly updates online at www.michigan.gov/cwd. Announcements of additional CWD-positive deer within that same area will be listed online. Additional news updates will be issued if a CWD-positive deer is found outside the immediate area.