EDMONTON (CP) – The first case of chronic wasting disease at a whitetail deer farm in Canada has been confirmed near Edmonton, the Canadian Cervid Council said Wednesday. Two whitetail deer farms have been quarantined and a two-week moratorium on the movement of farmed whitetail deer and mule deer has been ordered, the council said in a news release.
The moratorium does not include deer going directly to slaughter as all meat is held pending a negative test for the disease.
“We have initiated a trace-out of where all animals that have left that farm in recent years have gone,” said Dr. George Luderbach of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. “As well, we are initiating looking for possible sources of the disease and how it got to that farm.”
Saskatchewan government officials have said recently that chronic wasting disease appears to be spreading in the wild deer population. It has also been found in elk on several game farms.
Chronic wasting disease is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy that attacks the brains and nervous systems of animals in the deer family. Nerve cells in the brains are hollowed out and the animal begins to stumble and waste away.
It’s related to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a variant of mad cow disease that affects humans.