A captive deer at a Texas breeding facility has tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
In what is the first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a captive Texas deer, a two-year old whitetail has tested positive for to the deadly disease.
The deer was living at a breeding facility located in Medina County. Tissue samples of the infected deer were submitted as part of routine deer mortality monitoring by the breeding facility in early June.
Initial testing on the tissue samples was performed at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station. The positive results were then confirmed by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, on June 30, 2015.
This positive result for CWD in a captive Texas whitetail has led to the launching of a full epidemiological investigation with the aim of determining the full extent of the disease's presence in the state as well as assessing the risk posed to the free-range whitetail deer herd of Texas.
According to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the investigation is "being led by the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), in coordination with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Veterinary Services (USDA/APHIS/VS)."
Immediate action has also been taken by Texas wildlife officials at the breeding facility in Medina County. Measures are in place to secure all of the animals on the premises and plans for further testing at the facility have been developed.
Other whitetail breeding facilities that have received deer from or shipped deer to the Medina County facility within the last two years have also been notified of the positive Chronic Wasting Disease test. Those facilities are under movement restrictions and are not allowed to release or move any whitetail deer. TPWD has also disallowed the release of whitetail deer statewide and is considering further measures to protect the state's deer herd and prevent the possible spread of the disease.
"This is a terribly unfortunate development that we are committed to addressing as proactively, comprehensively, and expeditiously as possible. The health of our state's wild and captive deer herds, as well as affiliated hunting, wildlife, and rural based economies, are vitally important to Texas hunters, communities, and landowners. As such, our primary objectives are to determine the source of the disease and to identify other deer breeding facilities and release sites that may have received deer from affected facilities," said Carter Smith, TPWD Executive Director. "Working collaboratively with experts in the field we have developed protocols to address Chronic Wasting Disease, and our implementation efforts are already well under way."
The state of Texas has had a surveillance program in place to watch for CWD since 2002. Over 34,000 samples from both road killed and hunter harvested whitetail have been tested since then with zero positive results. The Medina County facility where the disease was found has had its own testing program in place since 2006 with no positive tests until this most recent case.
"We are working with experts at the local, state and federal level, to determine the extent of this disease, and respond appropriately to limit further transmission," said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Epidemiologist and Assistant Executive Director. "Strong public awareness and the continued support of the cervid industry is paramount to the success of controlling CWD in Texas."
For more information on Chronic Wasting Disease in the state of Texas, click here.