AUSTIN – A 3 1/2-year-old captive raised white-tailed buck harvested in early January by a hunter from a release site on a ranch in Medina and Uvalde counties has been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). The deer’s origin has been identified as an onsite deer breeding facility and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are conducting an epidemiological investigation.
Tissue samples revealed the presence of CWD prions during testing at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station. The samples were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which validated the suspect findings.
The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. CWD has also been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in 23 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In Texas, the disease was first discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer along a remote area of the Hueco Mountains near the Texas-New Mexico border, and last summer was detected in two captive white-tailed deer breeding facilities 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 about the TAHC CWD program may be found at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.