Deer With Chronic Wasting Disease
Found In Suburban Denver

By Mark Sherman
Associated Press

DENVER (Reuters) - The discovery in suburban Denver of a mule deer infected with chronic wasting disease - a relative of mad cow disease - threatens Colorado's $600 million hunting industry and shows the affliction is spreading south, officials said this week.
"This underscores the fact that no part of the state is apparently immune from chronic wasting disease," Colorado Gov. Bill Owens told reporters. "All levels of government must work together to stem the spread."
Earlier this year, state wildlife officials slaughtered more than 3,000 elk infected with CWD, a fatal neurological malady found in free-roaming elk and deer. The disease attacks the brain of infected animals, causing a loss of muscle coordination, abnormal behavior, emaciation, and death.
Colorado Division of Wildlife veterinarian Mike Miller said the discovery of the dead buck in the town of Leyden west of Denver, along with three other infected deer found in neighboring Boulder county, shows the outbreak is moving from remote elk herds to more concentrated deer herds close to Colorado's population centers. "There's a high density of deer in the area that display very localized movement patterns," Miller said. "This could produce high rates of infection."
Chronic wasting disease is a relative of mad cow disease or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), which is believed to be linked to the human brain-wasting disorder Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which has killed more than 100 peoople in western Europe, mainly Britain. There is no scientific evidence that CWD can spread to humans or domestic livestock, but a 2000 study by the National Institute of Health found diseased deer proteins can convert healthy human proteins to infected ones.
A task force appointed earlier this year by the Colorado governor to study the issue met on Wednesday to discuss the latest developments.
Since 1967 when CWD was first identified, the disease had been confined to elk and deer herds along a tier of southern Wyoming and northeastern Colorado. But in recent years it has spread to four other states and two Canadian provinces.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture allocated $2.5 million to Colorado study ways to combat the deadly disease.
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