Associated Press, Published January 22 2011
Minnesota finds 1st probable case of chronic wasting disease in wild deerMINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota wildlife officials have found the
state's first probable case of chronic wasting disease in a wild
deer, which was shot near the southeastern town of Pine Island, the
Department of Natural Resources announced.
It was one of 524 deer tested during the fall hunting season in
the Pine Island area, northwest of Rochester, the DNR said. The
agency expects to get confirmation from the National Veterinary
Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, next week but is already moving
ahead with a response plan developed several years ago.
Officials said there's no evidence that CWD can spread to
humans, nor is it known to affect livestock such as cattle. But the
disease is fatal to deer, elk and moose, and experts recommend
against eating meat from an infected animal.
Lou Cornicelli, the DNR's big game coordinator, said they hope
it's an isolated case and that a fast response can stop it from
spreading through the state's deer herd.
Still, DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the discovery has
``serious implications.' He noted that Minnesota has nearly half a
million deer hunters, and that deer hunting has a large impact on
the state's economy.
Researchers don't know exactly how CWD is spread, though they
think it passes from animal to animal through feces, urine or
saliva, and that deer can catch it from contaminated soil. It's
caused by abnormal proteins called prions, not bacteria or viruses.
The disease causes brain degeneration and is always fatal.
Symptoms can include a drooping head or ears, poor physical
condition, tremors and stumbling. The hunter told DNR officials his
deer seemed thin but that it behaved normally.