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Texas "Fences Out" Colorado Deer and Elk - article

Posted by GoatWorld on November 29, 2001 at 19:53:26:

Hi folks,

Not that this has anything to do with goats but it could... and I know some of you live in Colorado (Hi Goatmom)...

Texas Animal Health Commission
Box l2966 *Austin, Texas 78711 *(800) 550-8242* FAX (512) 719-0719
Linda Logan, DVM, PhD* Executive Director
For info, contact Carla Everett, information officer, at 1-800-550-8242, ext. 710, or

For Immediate Release--
Texas "Fences Out" Colorado Deer and Elk

Texas animal health officials have shut the door on the importation of live elk and several species of deer from Colorado after cases of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a fatal, degenerative brain disease of elk and deer, were confirmed earlier this fall in farmed elk herds in that state. CWD belongs to the family of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies or TSEs, Other similar, but unique diseases, include BSE, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, which affects cattle; and scrapie, a disease that can affect sheep and goats.

"The TAHC issued the quarantine on the entire state of Colorado,
prohibiting the entry into Texas of live elk, mule deer, white-tailed and black-tailed deer. The quarantine is to prevent exposure to CWD and will remain in effect until it is modified or rescinded by the 12-member TAHC commission. The restrictions do not include hunter-killed animals," said Dr. Linda Logan, Texas state veterinarian and head of the TAHC. Texas has not had a case of CWD, and we want to provide as much protection against this disease as possible, while maintaining safe marketing and movement opportunities."

"The TAHC quarantine on Colorado was redundant until late November, when Colorado animal health officials lifted a movement ban that had been in place on domestic elk since October. Colorado officials will continue to restrict the movement of animals from quarantined facilities and any domestic elk that originate in the northeast corner of the state, where the disease is endemic.

Dr. Wayne Cunningham, Colorado state veterinarian, said his staff has
nearly completed the disease investigation. As of end of November, they have detected 11 positive elk, resulting in the quarantine of nine herds, involving about 1,550 animals. The infected herds will be depopulated, beginning in the non-endemic area of Colorado.

Veterinarians from the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), the state's livestock health regulatory authority, also have traced a dozen elk that were imported to Texas from two of the Colorado herds, prior to the detection of disease.

"Colorado officials acted swiftly to notify other states when they
confirmed disease in the herds. Although this is extremely unfortunate, it's an indication that the detection and reporting system works among states, and we're handling this issue quickly to prevent potential exposure to Texas hoof stock," said Dr. Logan. "It should be noted that the ranchers who had imported the elk to Texas complied with all health regulations."

Dr. Logan said, before being imported into Texas, deer and elk must meet a number of health requirements. Besides entry permits, the animals must have had a certificate of veterinary inspection issued within the previous 30 days, meet stringent tuberculosis testing requirements and test negative for brucellosis, a bacterial disease that can affect cattle. The deer and elk also must come from a state with a CWD program that requires disease reporting and which imposes movement restrictions on suspicious or positive herds. If the animals originate in a state that has CWD in its wildlife, the animals must come from a herd enrolled in a CWD monitoring program for
at least a year.

"We've located all of the imported elk, 11 of which were moved to a ranch in the Panhandle, and the 12th animal, which was sent to a facility in the Hill Country," commented Ken Waldrup, TAHC veterinarian and field epidemiologist. "When our veterinarians inspected these imported elk, they had no clinical signs of CWD, which can include extreme weight loss, unusual behavior, excessive
salivation, weakness, and loss of body function."

Dr. Waldrup explained that the ranchers involved have excellent sale and movement records, making epidemiology work much easier for the TAHC veterinarians. The 11 elk on the Panhandle ranch were imported from Colorado prior to l998 or earlier,

Two had been killed, and two each had been transported to Pennsylvania and Missouri. One had been returned to Colorado. Because there is no live-animal test for CWD, the four Colorado-imports remaining on the ranch were euthanized Friday, November 9, and their brain tissue was submitted to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, for examination. The
carcasses were incinerated as an extra biosecurity measure, Dr Waldrup said.

"We've also notified Pennsylvania and Missouri animals health officials, so that they can locate the four Colorado animals that were transported to their states," said Dr. Waldrup. "While we await the report from NVSL regarding the health status of the Colorado-imported elk, the other animals in the Panhandle herd will be quarantined. If disease is detected, we'll take appropriate measures to cull and remove animals that may have been exposed."

Dr. Waldrup said the Colorado elk taken to the Hill Country ranch also is quarantined, along with its herd mates, while negotiations are finalized for the purchase of the imported animal for testing. "Federal CWD indemnity funds are limited to $3,000 per animal, and since many of these animals are worth much more, it is difficult to let go of an animal for testing," he said. "This animal has been in Texas less than three months, so there is little chance that this animal poses a threat to the rest of its herd."

Dr. Logan explained that Colorado officials have required mandatory CWD monitoring of farmed deer and elk herds in the state since May l998, due to the incidence of the disease in wildlife in the northeastern corner of the state. The monitoring program involves testing animals that die, regardless of the cause of death.

The TAHC offers a voluntary CWD monitoring program in Texas, encompassing all cervids, including fallow and white-tailed deer. About 20 herds are enrolled, added Dr. Waldrup. He said TAHC veterinarians are working with staff from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to determine ways to increase surveillance for Texas white-tailed deer raised under permit by scientific breeders.

Dr. Logan said wildlife officials in Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska also have collected brain samples for testing from hunter-killed animals in the targeted "endemic area," involving a small portion of northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming and southwestern Nebraska. Hunters are notified when an infected carcass is detected. In Wyoming and Colorado, less than one percent of the elk and less than five percent of the deer have been found to be infected. Two hunter-killed infected mule deer have been detected in Nebraska.

"At this time, there is no evidence that CWD is transmissible to other hoof stock, such as axis or fallow deer. In the endemic area of Colorado, there has been no evidence of spread to cattle, sheep or pronghorn antelope," said Dr. Waldrup. "Experiments and monitoring are continuing in the area, so the veterinary and producer community can better understand this disease, which was unknown until 1967, when it was first seen in a captive wildlife research center in northeastern Colorado," he said.

Dr. Waldrup said that the first CWD-positive farmed elk herd was detected in 1997 in South Dakota. Since then, 16 other herds have been found: five more in South Dakota; three in Nebraska, five in Colorado, and one each in Oklahoma and Montana. By late October 2001, 10 of these herds had been depopulated, six remained quarantined, and one herd had been released from quarantine after rigorous testing and surveillance revealed no further evidence of disease. He said the disease also has been detected in several
farmed elk herds and free-ranging mule deer in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

"All animal movement and trade entails a degree of risk," said Dr. Logan. "Besides disease eradication, our main duty is to assess and reduce risks to our state's herds and flocks. We cannot construct a fence around Texas, but we can set realistic standards, testing and monitoring requirements for imported animals. After Colorado officials complete the epidemiological work on these herds, the TAHC commissioners may want to revisit the issue of the prohibition on Colorado deer and elk imports in a year or more."

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