New Mexico Deer Tests Positive
For Chronic Wasting Disease


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.


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