Chronic Wasting Disease
Found In Wyoming Elk
From Patricia Doyle, PhD

A ProMED-mail post
ProMED-mail, a program of the
International Society for Infectious Diseases
The Billings Gazette
An elk killed recently in the Shirley Mountains north west of Medicine Bow has tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD). Bob Lanka, wildlife management coordinator for the Game and Fish Department in Laramie, said the discovery of the disease in the infected elk in Hunt Area 16 didn't come as a surprise. He said animals in 2 other elk hunt areas immediately to the east and south of Hunt Area 16 also had tested positive for the disease.
Lanka also said the disease has already been discovered in a few deer there and in elk in the Laramie area, just east of the Shirley Mountains.
A hunter had killed the elk on 21 Sep 2006 near the Prior Flats Campground. The Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory detected the disease in the animal on 29 Sep.
Terry Kreeger, supervisor of the Veterinary Services Branch of the game department, said the elk killed in the Shirley Mountains could have contracted the disease from other elk or from deer.
The disease was first detected in Wyoming in the south eastern part of the state and is spreading in wildlife populations. "We know it (CWD) goes from white [tail] deer to mule deer to elk," Kreeger said Monday. "Every direction as far as we know."
The disease has been detected in 10 states and 2 Canadian provinces. Researchers have found that the disease can spread among animals in both saliva and blood. Infected animals show no signs for the first 1 to 3 years. But in the later stages of infection, the disease can cause animals to become emaciated and display abnormal behavior.
Public health officials and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have recommended that hunters not shoot or eat animals that appear sick. Officials say hunters should wear latex gloves as a routine precaution when field-dressing animals. Hunters should also minimize the handling of brain and spinal tissues, bone out meat when butchering, and wash their hands afterward. Scientists say there's been no documented transmission of the disease to humans from eating infected game animals, or from any other route. "It's impossible to say with 100 per cent certainty that it will never happen," Lanka said.
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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