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Michigan Deer Farm Confirms CWD

Posted by Jennifer Smith on

MECOSTA COUNTY, MI - Chronic wasting disease has been confirmed in a one-year-old Mecosta County farmed deer, according to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

This is the first case of a Mecosta County CWD positive farmed deer since January 2017, when a different farmer submitted two positive samples, DNR wildlife biologist Ryan Soulard said.

It is currently unknown how the deer became infected. The farmer who submitted the positive sample has "gone above and beyond any state requirements to protect their deer from disease," according to a statement from Michigan State Veterinarian James Averill.

"What we know about CWD is always evolving," said DNR state wildlife veterinarian Kelly Straka. "As new positives are found, we learn more about how it's transmitted to determine the best way to protect both free-ranging and farmed deer."

The positive Mecosta County farm has been quarantined and, based on a CWD response and surveillance plan, the DNR and Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development will take the following steps:

  • Conduct trace investigations to find possible areas of spread.
  • Identify deer farms within the 15-mile radius and implement individual herd plans that explain the CWD testing requirements and movement restrictions for each herd. These herds will also undergo a records audit and fence inspection.
  • Partner with the United States Department of Agriculture on the management of the herd.

Since 2015, when the first CWD-positive deer was found, the DNR has tested about 23,000 deer.

As of Dec. 6, 30 cases of CWD have been suspected or confirmed in deer from Clinton, Ingham, Kent and Montcalm counties. That was a significant increase from the 11 confirmed cases of CWD tracked by the state as of mid-November.

Michigan State University is working on testing several thousand additional samples, so numbers for this deer season could still change, according to the DNR.

To date, there have been no reported cases of CWD infection in humans and there is no evidence chronic wasting disease presents any risk to humans, either through contact with an infected animal or from handling venison.

However, as a precaution, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend infected animals not be consumed as food by either humans or domestic animals.

Chronic wasting disease is a contagious and deadly neurological disease affecting deer, elk and moose. It causes a spongy degeneration of the brain, resulting in emaciation, abnormal behavior, loss of bodily functions and, ultimately, the animal's death.

High rates of CWD in a deer population could significantly affect the number of deer and could decrease the potential for older deer, especially more mature bucks.

Story re-posted from Mlive.com. Written by Bryce Airgood.