SPRINGFIELD, ILL. – Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has been detected in three more deer in northern Illinois, the Department of Natural Resources announced today, bringing to four the number of confirmed cases of the disease in Illinois. CWD is not known to be contagious to livestock or humans.

Two of the three new cases were found in the vicinity of the first CWD case reported in early November. One positive case each was returned from Boone, McHenry and Winnebago counties. This represents the second instance of a CWD-positive deer in Boone County. (Illinois’first case, originally reported as from Winnebago County, actually was just over the county line in Boone County). The locations of the three cases reported to date within Boone and Winnebago counties are within approximately two miles of each other in an area east of Roscoe, Illinois. The McHenry County positive deer came from an area a few miles northeast of Woodstock. The new cases include a 2.5-year-old buck (Boone), 1.5 year-old-buck (McHenry) and a 1.5-year-old doe (Winnebago).

The samples were taken as part of IDNR’s CWD surveillance of deer harvested during the firearm deer season. Testing was conducted at the Illinois Department of Agriculture Disease Laboratories. A follow-up test on the McHenry County case was conducted at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, confirming the diagnosis. Follow-up tests on the Boone and Winnebago county animals were deemed unnecessary, given their location and the contagious nature of the disease.

“It comes as no surprise that we found additional cases near the first one,” said IDNR Director Brent Manning. “The identification of a new location in McHenry County, although an unwelcome result, does demonstrate that our surveillance program is proving effective. We will continue to study results as they come in, in order to incorporate the best science into our response strategies.”

Illinois expanded its surveillance efforts regarding CWD earlier this year and created a joint task force with the Departments of Natural Resources and Agriculture following the CWD outbreak in southern Wisconsin. About 4,000 samples of hunter-harvested deer were taken in 36 counties around Illinois during the firearm deer season Nov. 22-24 and Dec.5-8. Tests have been completed on about 1,450 samples, with only the three positive results.

“We continue to be committed to a long-term plan of stepped up surveillance and monitoring and taking all steps biologically appropriate to combat chronic wasting disease in Illinois. Deer hunters and those who value the health of wildlife and outdoor recreation in Illinois played an important role during the firearm season and will continue to play an important role in that process.”

Counties sampled for CWD during the 2002 firearm deer hunting season included: Jo Daviess, Stephenson, Winnebago, Boone, McHenry, Carroll, Ogle, DeKalb, Whiteside, Rock Island, Bureau, LaSalle, Hancock, Adams, Pike, Fulton, McLean, Vermilion, Sangamon, Macoupin, Shelby, Fayette, Effingham, Clark, Lawrence, Madison, St. Clair, Clinton, Washington, Randolph, Jefferson, Marion, Williamson, Union, Johnson and Pope. Counties were selected based on a variety of factors including geographic location, size of deer population and the number of facilities with captive deer or elk.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal neurological disease found in deer and elk. The disease affects the brains of infected animals, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination and eventually die. It is not known to be contagious to livestock or humans.

CWD has been diagnosed in wild, free-ranging deer and elk as well as in captive animals in a number of western states but earlier this year was found in neighboring Wisconsin and Minnesota.

For updated information about chronic wasting disease, including answers to frequently asked questions and the Department’s rules, please see our web site at: http://dnr.state.il.us/pubaffairs/2002/CWD.htm. A web application that allows participating hunters to check the status of test results for deer sampled during the firearm deer season should be available this week.