Targeted CWD Surveillance Reveals New Area of Infection

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A sick looking mule deer collected in Saratoga Aug. 14 tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

“The deer was taken in deer Hunt Area 80 outside the CWD Zone, the area where CWD was known to occur,” says Bob Lanka, Wyoming Game and Fish Department Laramie Region Wildlife Coordinator.

Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton received a report of a deer that exhibited signs of chronic wasting disease, a rare, but fatal disease affecting the brains of mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk.

After seeing the deer, Burton collected it as part of the G&F’s ongoing CWD targeted surveillance program. The targeted surveillance program focuses on G&F personnel collecting deer that exhibit signs of CWD.

“Harvesting and testing animals that exhibit signs of CWD often shows we have CWD in an area before hunter harvest surveillance does,” says Lanka, “allowing us to better determine the extent of the disease.”

The G&F plans to collect more deer from the area to learn more about the distribution of CWD in and around Saratoga.

“Research indicates that infected animals tend to be found in localized groups or clusters,” said Lanka. “Sampling a small number of deer near where the positive was found is reasonable response to this development, and is based on the best available science. The collection will have no impact on the Platte Valley deer population,” says Lanka.

The G&F plans to use information gathered at this site, along with check station information gathered Oct. 1-5 to determine if future action will be necessary.

The World Health Organization says there is no evidence that CWD in deer and elk is transmitted to humans, but they further state no part or product of any animal with evidence of CWD or other TSEs should be fed to any species (human or any domestic or captive animal).