Subject: CWD SPREADS TO CENTRAL UTAH, DEADLY DISEASE FOUND IN MORE DEER
Date: January 16, 2006 at 7:22 am PST
Wasting disease found in more deer
New area: DWR tests indicate the disease has spread to the central portion of the state
By Elisabeth Nardi
The Salt Lake Tribune
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has found eight new cases of chronic wasting disease in deer in Utah.
Two of the deer that tested positive came from the central part of the state, near the Spencer Fork Wildlife Management Area, about 20 miles north of Fountain Green. This surprised wildlife officials because in the past, only one other deer in that area of the state has ever tested positive, and that was two years ago.
"We tested more than 1,000 deer in that area in the fall of 2003 and 2004 and didn't find any other deer with the disease," Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease specialist for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said in a statement. "The two deer that tested positive this year, however, confirm that we do have the disease in the central part of the state."
The known total of cases of deer with the fatal nervous system disease in Utah now stands at 26.
The new cases were discovered after 2,100 deer were collected during the 2005 fall hunting season specifically to be tested for CWD. Two of the eight deer were taken during last fall's muzzle loader season, and six were taken during the rifle hunt. Still, no deer have been found in northern Utah infected with the disease.
Last year DWR tested 3,000 deer and seven had the disease. This year's results show
the division that the disease is so far contained to just a few areas, McFarlane said.
"It just gives us an idea of prevalence in the state," she said.
CWD affects the nervous system of mule deer, white-tailed deer and Rocky Mountain elk. Animals with CWD develop brain lesions, lose weight, salivate uncontrollably and then die, though it's impossible to tell that an animal has the disease until death. CWD is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, similar to so-called "mad cow disease." A human form of the disorder is called Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Federal and state officials have not found that eating an animal with CWD leads to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. But DWR did notify the hunters whose deer tested positive and suggested they dispose of the meat from the animal, McFarlane said.
Utah CWD Results Are In
From the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources
The Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory in Logan has finished testing more than 2,100 deer for chronic wasting disease. The deer were taken during Utah's 2005 fall hunting seasons.
Of the more than 2,100 deer tested, eight had the disease, the Division of Wildlife Resources announced Jan. 13.
Two of the eight deer were taken during last fall's muzzleloader season, and six were taken during the rifle hunt.
In addition to the deer that were tested, laboratory personnel are almost done testing about 300 elk taken this fall. So far, none of the elk have tested positive for the disease. CWD has never been found in elk in Utah.
"The disease appears to be staying within areas where we've already found it," said Leslie McFarlane, wildlife disease specialist for the DWR. "In central and northeastern Utah, we estimate that less than 1 percent of the buck population is affected by CWD. In the LaSal Mountains in southeastern Utah, we estimate about 2 percent of the buck deer have the disease."
McFarlane was surprised to find CWD in two deer taken in central Utah this past fall.
"A deer killed near Fountain Green in the summer of 2003 tested positive for the disease, and we were hoping that would be the only deer we would find in that part of the state," she said. "We tested more than 1,000 deer in that area in the fall of 2003 and 2004 and didn't find any other deer with the disease.
"The two deer that tested positive this year, however, confirms that we do have the disease in the central part of the state."
The two central Utah deer were taken about eight miles apart from each other near the Spencer Fork Wildlife Management Area, about 20 miles north of Fountain Green.
In addition to the two central Utah bucks, five deer taken in the LaSal Mountains this past fall had the disease. So did a yearling buck taken near the south end of Flaming Gorge Reservoir. That was the first CWD-positive deer found in that specific area, but other CWD-positive deer have been in the past near Vernal, just 20 miles to the south.
All of the hunters who took the deer have been notified that their animals tested positive for CWD.
CWD First Confirmed in Utah in 2003
Since the fall of 2002, almost 10,300 deer in Utah have been tested for CWD. A total of 26 of those deer had the disease.
Eighteen of the 26 deer came from the LaSal Mountains, four came from the Vernal area, one was taken near the south end of Flaming Gorge, one was killed near Fountain Green, and two were taken 20 miles north of Fountain Green.
CWD is fatal to deer and elk that contract it. However, according to the World Health Organization, "There is currently no evidence that CWD in cervidae (deer and elk) is transmitted to humans."
For more information about CWD, visit the DWR's Web site at http://www.wildlife.utah.gov/hunting/biggame/cwd