Chronic Wasting Disease
Confirmed In Kansas

By Michael Pearce
The Wichita Eagle
A federal veterinary lab in Iowa has confirmed that a whitetail doe shot in northwest Kansas was the state's 1st wild deer found with chronic wasting disease. Bob Mathews, Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks spokesman, announced the finding Monday.
Chronic wasting disease is 100 percent fatal within the deer family, which includes whitetail, mule deer, elk and moose.
The doe was shot during the 30 Nov - 11 Dec 2005 firearms season, near St. Francis. Tissue from the deer was taken as part of a program that took samples from about 2000 Kansas deer last season.
Wildlife and Parks announced the probability of the disease in Kansas when a preliminary test came back positive last Wednesday. They weren't surprised.
First documented along the Colorado-Wyoming border in the 1960s, in recent years the disease has shown up as far east as New York and has annually been found in portions of Colorado and Nebraska.
Mathews said that during fall 2005, a diseased deer was found 12 miles west of the Kansas-Colorado border.
Though there are still a lot of unknowns about the disease, Mike Mitchener, Wildlife and Parks wildlife chief, said there's no reason to get alarmed. "We have a contingency plan we're going to follow," he said. "Right now we want to make sure people are getting the right information."
Q. Is chronic wasting disease fatal to humans or livestock?
A. No. Although it's a close relative of mad cow disease, chronic wasting disease has never been transmitted from deer to people or livestock.
Q. Can people safely eat venison?
A. It's not recommended that animals that test positive for the disease be consumed, but biologists say venison is safe, especially if handled properly.
Wildlife and Parks has advised hunters against cutting through venison bones, especially near the brain and spinal column, where the disease is located. They also suggest that hunters wear rubber gloves when processing deer.
Q. Will the disease wipe out the Kansas deer herd?
A. Chronic wasting disease has had some localized impact on deer herds but has never caused widespread kills.
Q. What negative effects could chronic wasting disease have in Kansas?
A. The disease could induce some sportsmen to stop hunting Kansas deer. Kansas deer hunting is a multimillion-dollar business.
Hunter numbers have remained constant in Nebraska, though, where the disease was first diagnosed in 2000.
It could affect commercial elk and deer facilities, if infected. Also, continued monitoring programs could cost Wildlife and Parks thousands of dollars.
Q. Will deer in other parts of Kansas become infected?
A. It's unsure how the disease is contracted, though it's probably from deer to deer, such as through saliva and urine, which could take a long time to spread.
Still, chronic wasting disease has suddenly shown up hundreds of miles away from other cases. Biologists think the spread may have been accelerated by transportation of infected commercial deer and elk. Such shipping is now illegal in many states.
Q. What does Wildlife and Parks plan to do about the disease?
A. According to Mitchener, the department is finalizing plans but more details will be released to the public within a few days.
Bruce Trindle, a Nebraska research biologist, said Nebraska officials have gone immediately into an area where an infected deer was found, killed more deer and had their tissue sampled.
In following seasons, Nebraska has issued more permits and has had longer hunting seasons in diseased areas so that hunters could monitor local deer closely.
Patricia A. Doyle, DVM, PhD- Bus Admin
Tropical Agricultural Economics
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