- SANTA FE, N.M. - A mule deer
from White Sands Missile Range has tested positive for chronic wasting
disease, the first case in the state, prompting game officials to close
New Mexico's borders to importation of deer and elk.
- The state on Tuesday declared an animal health emergency
because of the chronic wasting disease case. "We want to isolate
it and prevent its spread," said state Game and Fish Department Director
Larry Bell. Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, contagious brain ailment
that causes elk and deer to grow thin and die. It is related to bovine
spongiform encephalopathy, known as mad cow disease. It is not known to
spread from deer and elk to cattle or people, but scientists say they can't
rule out that possibility.
- The disease most commonly has been found on or near game
farms, but there are none near White Sands Missile Range in the southern
part of the state, he said.
- "We do not know how CWD was transported to the White
Sands area," said Kerry Mower, a wildlife disease specialist for the
department. "There are no game farms down there and it is far from
the endemic areas of Colorado and Wyoming. But this does illustrate how
little we know about the spread of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies."
- In the past 10 years, chronic wasting disease has been
found in Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Montana, South Dakota, Wisconsin and
in Alberta and Saskatchewan, Canada.
- The positive test in New Mexico was confirmed Monday
by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory. New Mexico's actions restrict
only the importation of live deer and elk, but Bell said state officials
will soon discuss regulations to restrict the importation of sport-hunted
deer and elk.