News Release

For immediate release: May 18, 2017

Contact: Michael Crusan

Four more farmed white-tailed deer test positive for Chronic Wasting Disease

Part of disease tracing effort reaching back to 2016 Crow Wing County case

In late April, the Board of Animal Health and United States Department of Agriculture euthanized a quarantined herd of 14 white-tailed deer in Meeker County. Samples collected from the animals were tested at the USDA’s National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa and four deer were confirmed CWD positive on May 15. This herd was part of an investigation initiated with a CWD infected farmed deer herd found in Crow Wing County late last year.

The Board shared the test results with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which responds to and manages CWD in wild deer. The Board works with the USDA as it investigates and regulates CWD in farmed deer. The owner agreed to euthanize the animals and test them for CWD as part of a herd plan developed between the USDA, the Board and the owner after finding a trace animal in the herd was positive for CWD in January of this year.

The herd plan also includes tracing animal movements into and out of this herd within the last five years. This tracing revealed two of the four CWD positive animals came from a Wright County deer farm as fawns in 2014. The Wright County farm has also been placed under quarantine as of May 15.

“This emphasizes the need for a strong CWD surveillance program in our captive deer and elk. Although these animals appeared healthy, they were infected with CWD and would have continued to spread the disease if they remained alive. CWD testing all deer and elk that die or are killed on a producer’s property is critical to the program,” said Board Assistant Director, Dr. Linda Glaser. “We quarantined the Wright County herd after discovering two of the four CWD positives originated there, but that herd is not considered infected. Herd movements are restricted, and the herd will be closely monitored until 2019.”

The Meeker County farm is empty and remains quarantined for all deer and elk species, and fences remain in place to keep wild deer off of the site. The next step is to clean and disinfect as much of the herd enclosures as possible. When that is complete, the property will remain quarantined for a period of five years.

CWD is a disease of deer and elk caused by an abnormally shaped protein, a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. There is no danger to other animal species. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine, and other fluids or tissues. The disease is always fatal, and there are no known treatments or vaccines. CWD is not known to affect humans, though consuming infected meat is not advised. Follow this link to learn read more about CWD.