Laboratory testing verifies state’s first occurrence of disease in wild deer

PRATT — The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa has verified the preliminary lab test conducted last week, which was positive for Kansas’ first occurrence of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild deer. Tissue samples from the deer, taken by a resident hunter in Cheyenne County during the state’s firearms season in December, were initially tested at a Kansas State University lab, then submitted to the lab in Iowa for confirmation.

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks biologists will sample additional deer in Cheyenne County to help determine whether the disease exists in other deer in the vicinity, a strategy outlined in a contingency plan the department first developed in 2003 after CWD expanded in Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska. CWD has been documented in ten states. The department also is planning to conduct a public meeting in St. Francis to provide more information on CWD and strategies to minimize the potential for spread of the disease.

CWD attacks the central nervous system of infected animals, and is within a group of similar diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE). While CWD can spread among deer and elk, it is not known to transmit to humans, livestock, or other animals. KDWP biologists have collected tissue samples from deer taken by Kansas hunters since 1996 to monitor deer herd health. During the past firearms deer season, tissue samples were collected from deer in five western deer management units, covering most of the western half of the state. Western units were sampled because biologists anticipated that was where an occurrence would most likely be found.

The department will post updated information on its website as further sampling and evaluation occurs. Contact Bob Mathews at KDWP’s Pratt office (620/672-5911 or email) for more information. More information on chronic wasting disease is also available on the Internet at

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