CWD strikes again in captive whitetail deer facilities in the Lone Star State.
Two new cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been confirmed in captive deer herds in Texas, including a confirmed positive from a tonsillar biopsy sample taken from a live deer, the first confirmation of its kind.
The first case involves a captive 3-1/2-year old doe that was born, raised and died of natural causes at a Medina County deer breeding facility where CWD had not been previously found. The other case involves a 2-1/2-year old captive buck that was raised in a Uvalde-Medina County deer breeding facility and hunting ranch where a CWD positive buck had been previously identified following its harvest during a hunt at the facility. The identification of CWD in the whitetail buck by the Texas Animal Health Commission and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department is the first confirmed positive from a live test tonsillar biopsy sample taken from a living animal.
The live testing of deer through the tonsillar biopsy procedure is a relatively new method, one that scientists, veterinarians and breeders hope will help in early identification of individual infected animals in a otherwise healthy herd, and prevent unnecessary termination of unaffected deer.
“If we can get away from post-mortem testing and have some valid live-animal testing, it’s going to give us a lot of opportunities,” said Texas Parks and Wildlife Department wildlife director Clayton Wolf in an interview.
The identification of the disease in the two deer pushes the total number of CWD infected deer identified in in private breeding facilities in Texas to ten. The disease was first identified in 1967 within a captive mule deer herd in Colorado. Since then the disease has spread to 24 states and two Canadian provinces. In Texas, the disease was first recognized in 2012 in a free ranging mule deer herd along the Texas-New Mexico border.
CWD affects deer and elk by attacking the nervous system and results in distinctive brain legions. Often compared to mad cow disease in livestock, the microscopic changes in the brain affect the behavior of the infected animal and are most notable in the later stage of the disease. Signs include listlessness, weight loss, lack of responsiveness and excessive thirst and urination. To date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. As a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommends not to consume meat from infected animals