Wisconsin Mad Deer Disease
Spreading - No Surprise
From Patricia Doyle, PhD

The news is not good and comes as no surprise. As we've stated many times on the program and the site, there is no known way for humans to interfere with the rapid progress of this catastrophe. 'Kill zones' and all the rest of the approaches to date to eradicate it are beyond ridiculous and sheer stupidity. And still hunters are going out and killing - and eating - these animals. They've been warned but most choose to dismiss such information. -ed
Hello Jeff -
The cases of CWD that we have identified are only the "tip of the iceberg." Many states, including my own state of New York, are not aggressively looking for CWD. I recently contacted the NY State Pathologist about a susepcted case of either CWD or rabies in a white tailed doe. NY State does not have anyone to send out to investigate the suspect case. They rely on the premise that there are no reported or identified cases of CWD in New York State, therefore, CWD does not exist in the State.
I believe that the new rapid test now being implemented by Wisconsin is actually catching deer in the very early stage of CWD. There will be some wildlife officials who prefer to ignore the results of the new test, indicating CWD is spreading rapidly, and simply say the test results are "false" positives.
CWD, mad cow disease of deer, is epidemic and sooner or later, wildlife officials will have to admit the obvious.
Patricia Doyle
A ProMED-mail post ProMED-mail, a program of the International Society for Infectious Diseases
Wasting disease: Whitetails Unlimited says CWD findings could raise new fears ------------------------------------------------ A new test that found preliminary indicators of chronic wasting disease in wild deer in more than a dozen additional counties could lead to a new wave of fear about the disease among hunters, the leader of Whitetails Unlimited said Thursday.
"It raises questions, and here we go, fear of the unknown again," President Jeff Schinkten said. "If they are really finding stuff, that is reason for concern."
According to state records reviewed by the Associated Press, 159 deer shot last fall tested positive for the disease on a new screening -- or rapid test -- approved by the U.S. Agriculture Department and used by the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory for the first time.
However, through Thursday, only 42 of those positives were confirmed with a second test -- immunohistochemistry -- that's considered the "gold standard" for diagnosing so-called mad-deer disease. Dr. Mark Hall, head of pathology at the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, said chronic wasting disease can only be confirmed by immunohistochemisty, he said.
Based on testing the past 2 years, the state Department of Natural Resources says it has found 316 wild deer with the disease in 8 southern counties - Columbia, Dane, Iowa, Kenosha, Richland, Rock, Sauk, and Walworth.
The new test -- called the IDEXX screening test -- so far in 2004 has detected deer positive for the disease in 14 additional counties: Chippewa, Crawford, Dodge, Eau Claire, Grant, Jefferson, LaFayette, Manitowoc, Marinette, Marquette, Portage, Taylor, Vernon, and Waukesha, state records show.
The screening test is designed to produce some false positive results so no animals with the disease are missed, said Julie Langenberg, a wildlife veterinarian for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Still, Langenberg acknowledges "there's a possibility" the new test is detecting some deer at an earlier stage of the disease.
The DNR found chronic wasting disease in 3 bucks shot near Mount Horeb in 2002, marking the first time it was found east of the Mississippi River.
The disease jeopardizes Wisconsin's annual $1 billion deer-hunting industry, because health experts warn no part of a diseased deer should be eaten. There is no scientific evidence the disease, discovered in Colorado in 1967, can infect people.
Steve Oestreicher, chairman of the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, one of the state's leading hunting and fishing groups, said Thursday he wouldn't read too much into the IDEXX test results, given the DNR uses it as a screening tool.
"I don't think it will cause a firestorm," he said. "There is certainly the possibility that CWD is on the landscape more than we think. We certainly hope not, but that is very possible. Right now, we just keep our faith in the veterinary lab."
Hunters in Wisconsin are not told whether a deer they shot tested positive on the IDEXX test. If the deer tests negative on the IDDEX test, it's not tested a second time. Schinkten and Oestreicher said those results probably should be reported to the hunter.
"I won't feed deer to my family if I hear positive. Why take any kind of chance?" Schinkten said. Hunters should decide for themselves whether the screening test results are mostly false positives or "has somebody uncovered something here," Schinkten said.
A landowners group critical of the DNR's handling of the disease says hunters should be told that deer are testing positive for the disease with one test but not the other, giving them the most complete information in deciding whether to eat the venison.
Citizens and Landowners for a Rational Response believes the results of the new testing likely provide early evidence that CWD is more widespread across the state, said spokesman Mark Peck, a landowner from Arena.
During the deer-hunting season immediately after chronic wasting disease was found in Wisconsin, license sales dropped 10 percent. Sales rebounded the next season after the DNR reported the disease had not been found elsewhere in the state following the testing of tens of thousands of deer with immunohistochemistry.
A drop in hunter interest could develop again if people have concerns about the positive results of the screening test, Schinkten said. "I got to believe this rapid test has some validity to it somewhere," he said.
But Schinkten said some are so sick of hearing about CWD that the recent developments will mean little to them. "There are some people who are just fed up with CWD," he said.
-- ProMED-mail <>
[According to the website for IDEXX laboratories on the HerdChek test, this is a USDA-approved rapid test for White-tailed deer with 98.8 percent sensitivity and 100 percent specificity.
Although there may be false positives, probably no true positives are missed.
This kind of an increase raises some questions. Are there that many false positives? Is the rapid test detecting the presence of the prion at much lower levels than immunohistochemistry? Has this disease always been present in cervid populations at undetectable levels? or has the disease been present, and we have previously written the deaths off as winter kill, starvation, overpopulation, or some other term that was appropriate at the time? There are no easy answers to these questions and perhaps no answers at all. But we certainly have more questions about this disease than we have answers. - Mod.TG]
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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