Chronic Wasting Disease -
More Cases In Illinois

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Chronic Wasting Disease in deer has been recorded in DeKalb County
By Diane Strand The Midweek News 3-18-4
Cases of Chronic Wasting Disease among deer have been found in northern Illinois and a program to address it is in progress, said DeKalb County Board member Julia Fauci, at a county executive meeting last week.
Previously, cases have been found in southern Wisconsin and in western states.
Chronic Wasting Disease is a fatal neurological disease found in deer and elk. The disease attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to become emaciated, display abnormal behavior, lose coordination, and eventually die.
Tim Schweizer, spokesman for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources,said last week, "So far, in the past 2.5 years that we have had positives, we have found 54 cases in the state from 4 counties: Boone, Winnebago, McHenry, and DeKalb. There have been 4 cases in DeKalb County."
Schweizer continued, "CWD only affects deer and elk. We are trying to contain the disease and slow it by taking samples of deer taken by hunters." Where they find the disease, the DNR destroys deer in that area.
Schweizer stressed, "There has never been any evidence that it can be contracted by people or livestock." That position has been supported by the World Health Organization.
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources began to monitor the wild, white-tailed deer herd for the disease in 1999. On 28 Feb 2002, the 1st cases of CWD were reported for 3 deer near the city of Mount Horeb in south-central Wisconsin.
For the last 2 years, the Illinois Departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources have tried to prevent chronic wasting disease from moving into Illinois. That has been difficult because the method of transmitting it is unknown. It is even possible that animals can pick it up from the soil.
A State of Illinois news release reported, "Researchers are just beginning to understand CWD. It is likely caused by an abnormal protein called a prion. The means of spreading CWD is unknown, but could involve close contact between animals or animals exposed to a CWD-infected environment.
"Usually months to years pass from the time an animal is infected to when it shows signs of the disease. Classic CWD signs in deer and elk 18 months or older include poor body condition, tremors, stumbling, increased salivation, difficulty swallowing, and excessive thirst or urination," the release said.
Concern has been expressed for both captive and wild herds, including a growing industry of farm-raised deer and elk raised for food.
Though there is no scientific evidence that CWD can infect humans, for safety's sake, experts suggest that hunters avoid eating the brain, spinal cord, eyes, tonsils, spleen, or lymph nodes of white-tailed deer and elk because the infectious agent tends to concentrate in those tissues. WHO has recommended no part of deer or elk that show evidence of CWD should be eaten by people.
DNR has long advocated good hygiene by hunters, including the wearing of rubber gloves when handling deer. Several years ago, CWD was diagnosed in wild, free-ranging deer and elk primarily in northeastern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, Nebraska, Montana,Oklahoma, Kansas, South Dakota, Saskatchewan, and Alberta.
Scientists test for CWD by examining the brain tissue of animals.
Illinois livestock regulations require that any captive cervid (member of the deer/elk family) that dies from an unknown cause and that has exhibited a neurological disorder must be tested for CWD.
Programs are in place for establishing Certified Monitored CWD herds of captive deer and elk.
Illinois has participated in a "targeted surveillance program" for CWD in wild deer for more than 5 years, because that approach was first proposed by the Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, a diagnostic and research service that investigates wildlife diseases.
If individuals suspect local deer of having the disease, they should contact the DNR's Wildlife Office at 217-782-6384
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Patricia A. Doyle, PhD Please visit my "Emerging Diseases" message board at: Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa Go with God and in Good Health



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