Mandatory surveillance program leads to detection of the disease

St. Paul, Minn – The Minnesota Board of Animal Health today announced that a farmed red deer from a Ramsey County herd tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).

The brain stem from a two-year-old female red deer was submitted for testing at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, where preliminary results were positive for CWD. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory today confirmed the positive test. The Board of Animal Health has placed the herd under quarantine and is working with the owners to determine the herd’s future.

The red deer died on the farm on May 10. The animal was tested for the disease as part of Minnesota’s mandatory CWD surveillance program, which has been in place since 2003. Farmed cervidae producers in Minnesota must CWD test all deer and elk over 16 months of age that die or are slaughtered.

This herd has been registered with the Board of Animal Health since 2000. “This herd is an example of farmers who take great care in the management of their animals,” said Dr. Paul Anderson, assistant director of the Board of Animal Health. “In their 12 years of herd registration with the Board, this producer has met all of the requirements.”

The Board of Animal Health is coordinating with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The DNR is currently evaluating the situation and will likely test wild white-tailed deer in the area this fall.

CWD is a fatal brain and nervous system disease found in cervidae in certain parts of North America. The disease is caused by an abnormally shaped protein called a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. Infected animals may show signs of the disease including progressive loss of body weight, behavioral changes, staggering, increased water consumption and drooling. In later stages of the disease, animals become emaciated (thus “wasting” disease).

According to state health officials and the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans.

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