DES MOINES – Two wild deer harvested in Allamakee County during the recent hunting season have been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD), marking the third year in a row the disease has been confirmed in a wild Iowa deer, all in Allamakee County.
“This is disappointing but not altogether surprising,” said Dr. Dale Garner, chief of Wildlife for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. “This region was a focal point for increased surveillance and thanks to hunters in the area we exceeded our goal of 400 samples. Our next step is to host another public meeting up there, listen to their concerns and discuss options available going forward.”
The surveillance zone covered a 140 square mile area in eastern Allamakee and northeast Clayton County, including the area near Harper’s Ferry. The two recent CWD positive deer were harvested within two miles of where the previous positive deer were taken.
Last year, local residents partnered with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to collect 85 additional samples after the regular deer seasons. None of those deer collected tested positive for the disease.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is currently working to obtain as much information as possible about the infected deer to implement its CWD response plan.
CWD is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. The only reliable test for CWD requires testing of lymph nodes or brain material after the animal is dead.
There is currently no evidence that humans contract CWD by eating venison. However, the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that hunters do not eat the brain, eyeballs or spinal cord of deer and that hunters wear protective gloves while field dressing game and boning out meat for consumption.
Prior to the positive detection in Iowa, CWD had been previously detected in every bordering state.
Since 2002, nearly 60,000 wild deer from across the state have been tested.