Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been discovered for the first time in a wild Iowa deer herd.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources reports the infected deer was harvested in Allamakee County during the first shotgun hunting season last December. The DNR is now gathering as much information as they can to launch their CWD response measures.
“The next step will be to focus our monitoring efforts in the area where the animal was harvested and work closely with local landowners and hunters to gather more information,” said DNR Director Chuck Gipp.
The DNR has been testing for CWD in wild deer herds for more than a decade. Since 2002, the department has collected more than 650 deer samples from a five-mile radius of where the recent infected deer was found. Gipp said the department is optimistic that they can effectively launch their response plan given how much information they already have.
CWD affects the neurological systems of deer, moose and elk. Once infected, the animal will lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose control of their bodily functions.
There is no clear indication that humans can contract the disease by eating infected venison; however, the National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control advise hunters not to eat harvested deer brain, eyeballs or spinal cord.
The disease has been found in every state that borders Iowa. This winter, more CWD infected deer were discovered in southern Wisconsin, where the disease is spreading.