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Q&As about Chronic Wasting Disease - (article)

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Posted by GoatWorld on July 02, 2002 at 21:10:46:

In Reply to: Texas' Surveillance for Chronic Wasting Disease - (article) posted by GoatWorld on July 01, 2002 at 18:26:16:

This fact sheet about Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is being
shared by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD)
to help answer questions about this wasting disease
of deer and elk.

Carla Everett, Information Officer, Texas Animal Health
Commission (TAHC), 1-800-550-8242


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ON CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE

What is Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD)?
CWD is an untreatable, fatal neurological (brain and nervous system)
disease found in deer and elk in certain geographical locations in North
America. The disease belongs to a family of diseases known as
transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. The
disease attacks the brain and neural tissue of infected deer and elk.
While CWD is similar to mad-cow disease in cattle and scrapie in sheep,
there is no known relationship between CWD and any other TSE of animals or
people.

How is it spread?
It is not known exactly how CWD is spread. It is believed that the agent
responsible for the disease may be spread both directly (animal to animal
contact) and indirectly (soil or other surface to animal). It is thought
that the most common mode of transmission from an infected animal is via
saliva, feces, and urine.

Where has it been found?
CWD is known to infect free-ranging deer and elk in northeastern Colorado
and free-ranging deer in western Colorado, southern Wyoming, western
Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Saskatchewan. It has
been diagnosed in elk in game ranches in Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota,
Montana, Oklahoma, Kansas, Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Is it dangerous to humans?
Epidemiologists with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
in Atlanta and epidemiologists at the Colorado Department of Public Health
and Environment have studied chronic wasting disease and found no evidence
that CWD poses a risk to humans or domestic animals. (Over 16 years of
monitoring in the infected area in Colorado has found no disease in people
or cattle living there.) The World Health Organization has likewise said
there is no scientific evidence CWD can infect humans. However, as a
precaution the WHO also says no part of a deer or elk with evidence of CWD
should be consumed by people or other animals.

What Precautions should hunters take?
Health officials advise hunters not to consume meat from animals known to
be infected with the disease. Boning out meat is recommended. In
addition, they suggest hunters take simple precautions such as wearing
latex gloves when field dressing carcasses, minimize handling of brain and
spinal tissues, wash hands and instruments thoroughly after field dressing
is completed, avoid consuming brain, spinal cord, eyes, spleen, tonsils,
and lymph nodes of harvested animals, and finally request that your animal
is processed individually, without meat from other animals being added to
meat from your animal.

How can you tell if a deer has CWD?
Because the brain is the organ affected by the disease, infected animals
begin to lose bodily functions and display abnormal behavior such as
staggering or standing with very poor posture. Animals may have an
exaggerated wide posture, or may carry the head and ears lowered. Infected
animals become very emaciated (thus "wasting" disease) and will appear in
very poor body condition. Infected animals will also often stand near
water and will consume large amounts of water. Drooling or excessive
salivation may be apparent.

What should I do if I see a deer that shows CWD symptoms?
Accurately document the location of the animal and immediately contact the
nearest Wildlife Division or Law Enforcement Division office of the Texas
Parks and Wildlife Department or call TPWD headquarters in Austin toll-free
at (800) 892-1112 and enter 5 for wildlife and 1 for general wildlife
information. Or contact, the Texas Animal Health Commission toll-free at
(800) 550-8242. Do not attempt to touch, disturb, kill, or remove the
animal.

Can I have deer venison tested?
Deer "venison" cannot be tested-only brain and neural and lymph node tissue
can be tested to detect the presence of CWD. There is no means of testing
deer tissue samples for CWD in Texas at present. However, the Texas
Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Lab in College Station is in the process of
being certified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be able to test
CWD samples. Eventually, the public may be instructed to contact the Texas
Animal Health Commission for information on testing.

Is the meat safe to eat?
While the agent that produces chronic wasting disease in deer and elk has
not been positively identified, there is strong evidence to suggest that
abnormally shaped proteins called prions are involved. Research completed
to date indicates that the prions accumulate only in certain parts of
infected animals-the brain, eyes, spinal cord, lymph nodes, tonsils, and
spleen. Based on these findings, hunters are recommended to bone out their
meat and consume only muscle tissue from harvested animals.

What is being done to combat CWD?
Texas officials have restricted importation of live deer and elk into the
state. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Animal Health
Commission are also working with deer and elk breeders to set up a
voluntary CWD monitoring program. This fall, TPWD will begin testing
hunter-killed deer and other suspect animals from the state's various
ecological regions.

Nationwide efforts to address CWD are accelerating rapidly. In other
states with captive animals known to have or have been exposed to CWD,
management is concentrating on quarantining or depopulating captive or
free-ranging animals in the affected area. In some cases around captive
populations, double fencing is recommended to prevent direct contact
between captive and wild animals

In wild populations, the management option recommended is to reduce the
density of animals in the infected area to slow the transmission of the
disease. This is being done by selective culling of animals suspected to
have been directly exposed to the disease. In Colorado and Wisconsin,
large numbers of animals are being killed to reduce density of animals and
thus slow the transmission of the disease. There is still a large need for
research on the disease as many questions go unanswered. There is also a
need for increased funding to support additional laboratories for testing
animals for the disease.

Almost every state wildlife agency is now planning an increased effort at
surveillance to detect if CWD is present. Many state agencies have banned
the importation of cervids into the state. Some states have also halted
intra-state movement of deer and elk and banned supplemental feeding
programs.

What can hunters do?
Hunters should be vigilant when afield for deer or elk that display
abnormal behavior such as staggering or standing with very poor posture.
Animals may have an exaggerated wide posture, or may carry the head and
ears lowered. Infected animals become very emaciated (thus wasting
disease) and will appear in very poor body condition. Infected animals
will also often stand near water and will consume large amounts of water.
Drooling or excessive salivation may be apparent. Report any suspected
cases of CWD to the proper authorities immediately.

Hunters should also support Texas efforts to restrict deer or elk
importation and report any suspected violations.

Finally, hunters should arm themselves with information, especially practical
tips for hunting and field dressing game.

Where can I learn more?
For Texas information, check the Web sites of the Texas Parks and Wildlife
Department (www.tpwd.state.tx.us) and the Texas Animal Health Commission
(www.tahc.state.tx.us) for periodic updates. Various others sites offer
information about CWD, including the U.S.D.A. site
(http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahps/cwd/index.shtml" target=_blank>http://www.aphis.usda.gov/vs/nahps/cwd/index.shtml). Human health
information for transmissible spongiform encephalopathy diseases is on the
federal Center for Disease Control and Prevention site
(http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/bse/bseparentqa.htm" target=_blank>http://www.cdc.gov/nip/vacsafe/concerns/bse/bseparentqa.htm). Some
excellent information is available on Web sites of states where CWD has
been detected in free-ranging deer
(http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/whealth/issues/CWD/index.htm" target=_blank>http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/whealth/issues/CWD/index.htm
and http://wildlife.state.co.us/cwd/" target=_blank>http://wildlife.state.co.us/cwd/ and
http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/cwd/cwdinfo.shtml" target=_blank>http://www.ngpc.state.ne.us/wildlife/cwd/cwdinfo.shtml). In early July, the
Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance web site will be up and running
(www.cwd-info.org).


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