AUSTIN – A free-ranging mule deer buck, harvested in Hartley County, has been confirmed positive for CWD. State officials received confirmation today from the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa.
Hartley County is located in the Texas Panhandle immediately to the south of Dalhart and borders New Mexico. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are contemplating a multi-tiered risk management response similar to the approach taken in 2012, when CWD was first discovered in Texas in a free-ranging mule deer in the Hueco Mountains along the New Mexico border.
The latest discovery marks the eighth mule deer to test positive for CWD in Texas. The other seven animals, all within the Hueco Mountains area, indicate a disease prevalence of 10–15 percent within that population.
State officials are currently compiling all the data necessary to finalize the specific management response for this new CWD positive area, and will engage stakeholders to ensure that this recent discovery and scenario helps form the dialogue and recommendations for the future.
CWD was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. The disease has been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer and elk in 23 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In Texas, CWD has also been documented in six white-tailed deer in Medina and Lavaca counties.
CWD among cervids is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of responsiveness. To date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.
More information on CWD can be found on TPWD’s website, http://tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/diseases/cwd/ . Or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, www.cwd-info.org. More information about the TAHC CWD program may be found at http://www.tahc.texas.gov/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.