RAWLINS, Wyo. – No more cases of chronic wasting disease have been found in Carbon County as testing for the fatal brain malady is nearing completion.
Hank Edwards, a disease specialist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, said 2,301 of 2,318 samples submitted by hunters have been tested by the State Veterinary Lab in Laramie. About 100 infected deer were identified. Most positive cases came from deer in eastern and east-central areas of Wyoming, where the disease is considered endemic, but the confirmation of three cases in Carbon County in south-central Wyoming late last year led some wildlife experts to believe the brain illness is spreading.
Game wardens are now monitoring those areas, and people who see sick deer are being asked to call the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.
Of the 109 infected samples, 85 cases were reported in mule deer, 19 in white-tailed deer and five in elk, said Bob Lanka, Laramie region wildlife management coordinator.
Reporting the results has apparently prompted more hunters to bring in specimens for testing, Edwards said.
“I think this is raising a fair amount of concern”, he said.
Chronic wasting disease creates sponge-like holes in the brain, causing the animal to grow thin, act abnormal and die. The disease is similar to mad cow disease.
There is no evidence the illness can be transmitted to livestock or humans, but scientists say they cannot rule out the possibility.
Once found only in small areas of Colorado and Wyoming, chronic wasting disease has spread to elk ranches and wild deer herds as far away as Wisconsin.
It has also been detected in captive or wild animals in Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.