CWD Found in Elk
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been found in Texas elk. Officials from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) confirmed CWD in a free-ranging elk, harvested in Dallam County, on December 6, 2016. This is the first known Texas elk to test positive for CWD.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and TAHC identified the CWD positive elk during surveillance of cervids at TPWD Panhandle Containment Zone check stations. The National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa confirmed the presence of CWD prions in the tissue samples taken from the elk. Dallam County is located in the Texas Panhandle and borders Oklahoma and New Mexico.
CWD Check Stations in Texas
“We commend all hunters and landowners who are submitting samples in the surveillance zone for CWD in the Texas Panhandle,” said Dr. Andy Schwartz, TAHC Executive Director. “Surveillance of this disease found in cervids is critical in detecting and preventing the inadvertent spread of CWD.”
Hunters who deer within the Trans-Pecos and Panhandle CWD Containment and Surveillance Zones are required to bring their animals to a TPWD check station within 24 hours of harvest. Hunters and landowners can located a CWD check station near them.
CWD has been found in free-ranging elk across the US, including the adjacent states of New Mexico and Colorado, the state where CWD was first documented (1967) within the US.
CWD in Texas
The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas. The disease has since been detected in a total of 8 mule deer in that West Texas population located in the Hueco Mountains and one mule deer in Hartley County. CWD has also been confirmed in white-tailed deer breeding operations located in Medina and Lavaca counties.
Symptoms of CWD
CWD is a progressive, fatal disease of cervids that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. A cervid may carry the disease for years without any outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, a lack of responsiveness, and the general, chronic wasting away of the animal.
CWD in Texas elk and deer is limited and to date there is no evidence that CWD poses a risk to humans or non-cervids. Regardless, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.
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