SHERIDAN– Two buck mule deer harvested on Oct. 3, 2008, in northeast Wyoming from deer hunt areas 26 and 29 tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), a brain disease known to affect some deer, elk and moose. One deer was harvested northeast of Buffalo, near Lake DeSmet in deer hunt area 26 and the other 7.5 miles east of Kaycee in deer hunt area 29.

Personnel at the Wyoming Game and Fish Department Laboratory analyzed samples taken as part of the department’s annual CWD survey and discovered positive results on Oct. 10, 2008.

“This is the first time we have found CWD in these two hunt areas,” says Warren Mischke, Wyoming Game & Fish Department Sheridan Region information specialist.

Deer hunt areas 26 and 29 have been added to the department’s list of areas known to have CWD. Consequently, the department recommends that deer hunters from areas 26 and 29 transport only the following items: cut and wrapped meat, boned meat, animal quarters or other pieces with no portion of the spinal column or head attached, hides without the head, cleaned skull plates (no meat or nervous tissue attached), antlers with no meat or other tissue attached. The head, spine and other nervous tissue should be left at the site of the kill or disposed of in an approved landfill. Rubber or latex gloves should be worn when field dressing any animal and during butchering.

Although CWD has been diagnosed in some wild deer, elk, and moose in 11 states and two Canadian provinces, there is no confirmed link between CWD and any human illness. After a review of available scientific data, the World Health Organization in December 1999 stated, “There is currently no evidence that CWD in cervidae (deer and elk) is transmitted to humans.”

In 2004, Dr. Ermias Belay of the Center for Disease Control said, “The lack of evidence of a link between CWD transmission and unusual cases of CJD, (Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a human prion disease) despite several epidemiologic investigations, suggest that the risk, if any, of transmission of CWD to humans is low.”

Nonetheless to avoid any risk, both organizations say parts or products from any animal that looks sick or tests positive for CWD or other transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) should not be eaten. For more information on chronic wasting disease visit the Game and Fish website. From there click on the Education link then the CWD link.