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One Diseased Animal Found Chronic Wasting Disease

One Diseased Animal Found Chronic Wasting Disease

May 15, 2001  Omaha World-Herald by Todd Cooper

One of the 61 deer killed during an April hunt in the Panhandle tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, a distant cousin to mad-cow disease, the Game and Parks Commission said Tuesday.

The 2-year-old female mule deer was killed in Kimball County in extreme southwestern Nebraska - about 21/2 miles from Colorado and two miles from Wyoming. That is the same area where a hunter killed a deer in November that later tested positive for the disease.

It was news Nebraska Game and Parks officials were expecting but it was news they didn't want to hear.(6,5/16/01)

The disease, which turns the brains of deer and elk to mush, has been spreading through northeast Colorado and southeast Wyoming for 20 years.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission conducted two hunts in March and April to try to determine the prevalence of the disease in the state. More than 30 biologists and conservation officers targeted an area that consisted of Kimball, Cheyenne, Deuel, Keith and Perkins Counties.

In all, 104 deer were killed and one tested positive.

Add the hunter-killed deer and the area has less than a 2 percent prevalence, which is low, said Bruce Morrison, assistant chief of the wildlife division.

"We would have loved to have had zero," Morrison said. "But if it's there, we want to know about it so we can monitor it."

Morrison said officials don't plan any more organized hunts before the fall hunting season. In November, hunters may voluntarily submit the heads of their deer at check stations in Kimball, Cheyenne, Deuel, Keith, Perkins, Chase and Dundy Counties. Limited testing also will be done in Banner, Scotts Bluff and Sioux Counties.

Scientists haven't found any evidence that CWD can be transmitted to cattle or to people [Absence of evidence does not mean evidence of absence--BSE coordinator].

To be safe, officials recommend that people don't eat meat from infected animals. They also recommned that hunters wear gloves while handling the deer, and don't handle or eat the brain or spinal cord. Hunters should also bone out the meat, rather than using a bone saw.(6,5/16/01)

Hunters in the area also may process their meat and wait for the test results before eating it. Officials guarantee test results within 12 weeks, but Morrison hopes hunters get results much earlier - within two to four weeks.(1,5/16/01)

Chronic Wasting Disease(1,5/16/01)

What is it?

Chronic wasting disease, commonly known as CWD, is a spongiform disease that affects the brains of mule deer, white-tailed deer and elk.

What does it look like?

Animals with CWD show progressive loss of body condition, excessive salivation, increased drinking and urination, and lethargy.

Is it dangerous to humans?

Experts say there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans or domestic livestock. Still, it is always recommended that hunters use rubber gloves when handling animal remains.

What if I find a sick animal?

If you see a deer or elk that looks sick, emaciated or lethargic, don't shoot it. Instead, call the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.


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