Michigan's First Case of Chronic Wasting Disease Detected at Kent
County Deer Breeding Facility.
The Michigan departments of Agriculture and Natural
Resources confirmed the state's first case of Chronic
Wasting Disease in a three-year old white-tailed deer from a
privately owned facility in Kent County.
The state has quarantined all POC facilities, prohibiting the movement
of all - dead or alive - privately-owned deer, elk or moose. Officials
do not yet know how the deer may have contracted the disease. To date,
there is no evidence that CWD presents a risk to humans.
DNR and MDA staff are currently reviewing records from the Kent County
facility and five others to trace deer that have been purchased, sold or
moved by the owners in the last five years for deer and the last seven
years for elk. Any deer that may have come in contact with the
CWD-positive herd have been traced to their current location and those
facilities have been quarantined.
"Michigan's veterinarians and wildlife experts have been working
throughout the weekend to complete their investigation," said Don
Koivisto, MDA director. "We take this disease very seriously, and are
using every resource available to us to implement response measures and
stop the spread of this disease."
CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects deer, elk and moose.
Most cases of the disease have been in western states, but in the past
several years, it has spread to some midwestern and eastern states.
Infected animals display abnormal behaviors, progressive weight loss and
Current evidence suggests that the disease is transmitted through
infectious, self-multiplying proteins (prions) contained in saliva and
other fluids of infected animals. Susceptible animals can acquire CWD by
direct exposure to these fluids or also from contaminated environments.
Once contaminated, research suggests that soil can remain a source of
infection for long periods of time, making CWD a particularly difficult
disease to eradicate.
"Currently, one of our top concerns is to confirm that the disease is
not in free-ranging deer," said DNR Director Rebecca Humphries. "We
are asking hunters this fall to assist us by visiting check stations to
allow us to take biological samples from the deer they harvest, so we
can perform adequate surveillance of the free-ranging white-tailed deer
herd in the area."
Deer hunters this fall who take deer from Tyrone, Soldon, Nelson,
Sparta, Algoma, Courtland, Alpine, Plainfield, and Cannon townships will
be required to bring their deer to a DNR check station. Deer taken in
these townships are subject to mandatory deer check.
The DNR is also asking hunters who are participating in the private
land five-day antlerless hunt in September in other parts of Kent County
to visit DNR check stations in Kent County so further biological
samples can be taken from free-ranging deer for testing. The DNR is in
the process of finding additional locations for check stations in Kent
County to make it more convenient for hunters.
The deer that tested positive at the Kent County facility was a doe
that had been recently culled by the owner of the facility. Michigan law
requires sick deer or culled deer on a POC facility be tested for
disease. The samples from the Kent County deer tested "suspect
positive" last week at Michigan State University Diagnostic Center for
Population and Animal Health, and were sent to the National Veterinary
Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa last Thursday for confirmatory
testing. The positive results of those tests were communicated to the
state of Michigan today.
Audits of the facility by the DNR in 2004 and 2007 showed no escapes of
animals from the Kent County facility were reported by the owner. Also,
there were no violations of regulations recorded during the audits.
Since 2002, the DNR has tested 248 wild deer in Kent County for CWD. In
summer 2005, a number of those deer had displayed neurological symptoms
similar to CWD; however, after testing it was determined the deer had
contracted Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
More information on CWD is available on Michigan's Emerging Diseases
Web site at www.michigan.gov/chronicwastingdisease