Samples from two deer taken during the 2011 Missouri fall firearms deer season have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
The samples were obtained from a pool of 1,077 tissue samples of free-ranging deer taken in the north-central portion of the state. Both positive samples came from Macon County and are the first CWD-positive results for free-ranging deer in the state.
CWD is a neurological disease that is limited to deer, elk, moose and other cervids. It is spread through animal-to-animal contact as well as by animal contact with soil that has traces of urine, feces or the decomposition of an infected animal. There is no scientific evidence that CWD can spread to domestic livestock or to humans through contact or consumption of deer meat.
Deer–and other cervids–with CWD exhibit extreme weight loss, excessive salivation, stumbling and tremors. CWD has been historically documented in Kansas, Nebraska, Illinois, Colorado, Minnesota, New York, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Maryland, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan. While these two deer represent the first time CWD has been discovered in Missouri free-ranging deer, three cases of CWD were previously identified in captive deer in the state; one in February 2010, one in October 2011, and one in December 2011.
In a Missouri Department of Agriculture press release Deer Biologist Jason Sumners states, “Teamwork among landowners, hunters and MDC staff allowed us to detect this infection early. We will be working with local landowners to harvest additional deer for tissue sampling. This is a first step and one of our best hopes for containing, and perhaps even eliminating, what we believe to be a recent localized event.”
The hunters that took the infected deer were contacted by authorities and given information concerning the disease.
The MDA has tested more than 34,000 free-ranging deer for CWD from all parts of the state since 2002.