Just more than half the samples collected have been tested
PRATT—It’s likely that four more deer taken in northwest Kansas will be confirmed to have had chronic wasting disease (CWD). So far, a total of 10 samples taken from deer killed by hunters this fall have shown presumptive positive results for CWD at the K-State Diagnostic Veterinary Lab in Manhattan. Those presumptive positives have been sent to the National Veterinary Services Lab (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa for confirmation. Six samples that showed presumptive positive results in December were recently confirmed positive by the NVSL.
The four recent presumptive positive samples came from deer taken in Rawlins, Decatur, and Logan counties. If confirmed, this would be the first case of CWD in Logan County.
More than 1,000 samples still wait to be tested in an ongoing effort by KDWP to monitor the prevalence and spread of CWD. The fatal disease was first detected in a deer taken in Cheyenne County in 2005. Three infected deer were taken in Decatur County in 2007 and 10 tested positive in 2008, from Cheyenne, Decatur, Rawlins and Sheridan counties. This year, about 2,300 samples will be collected, with emphasis in northwest Kansas.
CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep and goats, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or Mad Cow Disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jacob disease in people. CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that results in small holes developing in the brain, giving it a sponge-like appearance under the microscope. An animal may carry the disease without outward indication but in the later stages, signs may include behavioral changes such as decreased interactions with other animals, listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of response to humans.
There is no vaccine or other biological method that prevents the spread of CWD. There is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or livestock, but precautions are advised. Hunters are advised not to eat meat from animals known to be infected and common sense precautions are advised when field dressing and processing meat from animals taken in areas where CWD is found. More information on CWD can be found on KDWP’s website, www.kdwp.state.ks.us or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, www.cwd-info.org