Two wild deer harvested during the recent hunting season have been confirmed positive for chronic wasting disease in Allamakee County.
The first case of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a wild Iowa deer was confirmed in Allamakee County in 2014.
“This is precisely why we stepped up our efforts to increase the number of samples in a five-mile surveillance area around where we found the positive sample in 2014. The more information we have, the better position we are going to be in to implement a strategy to slow the spread,” said Iowa Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Bureau Chief Dale Garner.
“We can’t thank hunters enough for helping us collect the samples we needed,” said Garner.
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.
Currently, approximately half of the 300 samples collected in the surveillance area have been processed. Once all of the samples have been analyzed, Garner said public meetings will be scheduled in Allamakee County to discuss the results with the local public. DNR plans to collect additional samples.
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, the DNR has collected more than 900 samples of deer from within a five-mile radius of where the deer are believed to have been harvested. Statewide, approximately 57,000 wild deer have been tested since 2002.