Chronic Wasting Disease Reports from Missouri, Wisconsin, and Utah

Missouri  03/15/10  The Missouri Department of Conservation is on the lookout for deer with Chronic Wasting Disease.  Agent Eric Smith says a deer with the disease has been found in north central Missouri.  “A deer was tested in Linn County, Missouri, in a captive breeder pen in a herd,” Smith said. “That deer was put down and tested the first time it came back positive.  So they sent off the second test and it also came back positive.”   “Right now we don’t know of any CWD that is in any of our wild herd.”  Agent Smith says the disease has not really hit Missouri but has popped up in surrounding states.  “There are states around us right now, Kansas, Illinois, Iowa, that have CWD. So were trying our best to try and get a grasp on it before it gets too far out of hand. And we’ve had a plan in place for several years working with the department of agriculture and health and senior services.” The conservation department asks you to report any deer that are exhibiting strange behaviors.   “A lot of times they will look like somebody who is really intoxicated,” Smith said. “There will be a lot of saliva or mucus coming from the nose and mouth, might even be some blood coming from the nose and mouth. Walking in circles, that type of behavior.”  Smith says the symptoms are similar to EHD or Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, although that disease does not usually manifest until the end of the summer.


Deer with CWD

Wisconsin  03/15/10  The Department of Natural Resources sampled and tested more than 7,100 deer during 2009 in the Chronic Wasting Disease-Management Zone (CWD-MZ), with 175 testing positive for CWD, the state agency announced today. Test results for 2009 in the 210 square mile Western Core Area, which mainly encompasses western Dane and eastern Iowa counties, show that the overall trend in the prevalence rate – the percentage of deer testing positive for CWD – continues to increase. The Western Core Area has the highest prevalence rates in Wisconsin. Since 2002 and despite yearly fluctuations, overall prevalence increases are apparent in all sex and age classes. Over the past eight years of DNR testing in the core area, prevalence in adult males has risen from about 10 percent to over 12 percent and in adult females from about 4 percent to about six percent. Prevalence in yearling males has increased from about 2 percent to about 4 percent and in yearling females from 2 percent to nearly 6 percent since 2002. “Simply put, disease prevalence is higher in males than females and higher in adults than yearlings,” said Davin Lopez, DNR’s CWD project leader

DNR biologists and technicians conducted aerial surveys this winter by helicopter and fixed wing aircraft in the CWD-MZ. The 2009 post hunt population in the CWD-MZ is estimated to be 164,300 compared to 176,300 in 2008 (minus 7 percent), about 185,000 in 2007 and 190,000 in 2006. The total deer harvest in the CWD-MZ in 2009 was 66,013. DNR biologists know well that after eight years there’s still no easy answer to managing CWD, but they are firm in believing that based on all available evidence, the disease poses a significant threat to the long-term health of Wisconsin’s deer herd and that it is a statewide issue. “We take our responsibility to manage the disease very seriously in order to try and protect this herd for future generations, the very definition of wildlife conservation. The goal is to minimize the distribution and intensity of CWD.” “We must take a long-term view of disease management to accomplish this and as we revise our CWD Management Plan, we will again be looking at what this means in terms of different strategies,” added Lopez.


Utah  03/11/10  A fatal wildlife disease that affects the brain and nervous system has been found for the first time in an elk from Utah.  The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources on Thursday confirmed the state’s first chronic wasting disease case in an elk. It had already been documented in some of the state’s deer.  Chronic wasting disease is a contagious neurological disease that’s fatal to deer, elk and moose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers it endemic among deer and elk in Wyoming and Colorado and present in at least nine other states. The agency said there’s no strong evidence it can be passed to humans.

The female elk that tested positive was shot in southeastern Utah’s LaSal Mountains in November, state officials said Thursday.  Biologists had long suspected CWD was circulating at a low-level among certain elk populations, said Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease program coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources.  She estimated the prevalence rate among elk in the LaSals was likely less than 1 percent.  Still, the disease is a concern for its potential effects on herds and uncertainty about exactly how it spreads.

The state for years has been on the lookout for CWD and in 2002 started analyzing deer and elk samples often provided by hunters.  Of the 15,000 mule deer samples tested, 48 have come up positive for the disease. Most are from the LaSals.  Often the animals die from something else before the disease takes a deep hold and causes them to act strangely and begin wasting away.   The positive case with the elk won’t provoke any immediate management changes in Utah, McFarlane said.  “There are not a lot of management options once you have in your populations,” she said. “It’s basically now a monitor-to-see-what-happens.”

In neighboring Wyoming, which confirmed its first case of CWD in a wild elk in 1986, the disease continues to spread. Prevalence rates typically bounce around between 2 percent and 10 percent in samples voluntarily submitted by hunters each year, said Terry Kreeger, chief veterinary officer for Wyoming Game and Fish.  Rates are higher in deer, he said.  Despite predictions years ago that CWD would devastate herds, there’s no evidence that’s happening with Wyoming’s elk, Kreeger said, and only suspicions that it’s driving down deer numbers.


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