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2016-04-07

New CWD cases discovered at deer breeding facilities

Special to the Courier

Two new cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in Texas captive deer, including the first confirmed from a live test tonsillar biopsy sample, have been validated. Personnel with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) are conducting an epidemiological investigation into these new cases.
One case involves a 3 1/2-year-old captive-raised white-tailed doe that was born and raised on-site and died on-site of natural causes at a deer breeding facility in Medina County where the disease had not previously been found. Test samples were submitted in compliance with TAHC herd plan requirements.
The live test finding came from a 2 ½-year-old captive white-tailed buck in the Uvalde-Medina County deer breeding facility. This facility had been the source of a CWD positive white-tailed buck harvested by a hunter from a release site on the same ranch.
With these new confirmations, 10 white-tailed deer in or originating from deer breeding facilities have been confirmed positive for CWD in the state since the original detection in June 2015.
Tissue samples revealed the presence of CWD prions during testing at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station. The samples were submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which validated the suspect findings Friday evening.
The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. CWD has also been documented in captive and-or free-ranging deer in 24 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In Texas, the disease was first discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer along a remote area of the Hueco Mountains near the Texas-New Mexico border. Last summer, the disease was detected in two, separate captive white-tailed deer breeding facilities in Medina and Lavaca counties.
Among cervids, CWD is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes in the brains of affected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication. However, in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns and a lack of responsiveness.
To date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. However, as a precaution, the United States Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.
More information on CWD can be found on TPWD's website, http://www.tpwd.texas.gov/CWD or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, http://www.cwd-info.org.
More information about the TAHC CWD program may be found at http://www.tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.