Rare animal wasting disease reaches Texas
Wednesday, August 08, 2012
It’s way out west, but it’s here. And there’s some concern.
Two cases of chronic wasting disease (CWD) have been detected in a pair of deer in far west Texas near the New Mexico border.
They are the first cases ever detected in Texas.
In the 2011-12 hunting season, CWD was detected in New Mexico’s Hueco Mountains near the Texas line.
So Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW) and Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) collected 31 mule deer samples on the Lone Star side of the border.
The two Texas infected deer came from the counties of El Paso and Hudspeth. CWD was verified first by tissue samples examined at Texas A&M then again at the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
CWD is part of the same biological family as “mad cow” and scarpie in sheep.
While CWD is fatal to infected animals – no vaccine or cure exists – humans are not affected.
“Our primary objective is to contain the disease,” said Carter Smith, TPW executive director. “We have developed protocols and implementation is already underway.”
The disease is “very serious,” noted TPW commission chairman T. Dan Friedkin. “This is obviously an unfortunate and rather significant development.”
While almost 34,000 wild and captive Texas deer have been tested for CWD since 2002, the remoteness of the Hueco Mountains and the lack of hunting there has made surveillance out west difficult, noted Mitch Lockwood, TPW’s Big Game program director.
The management plan created includes input from a CWD task force, which includes deer and elk producers; wildlife biologists; veterinarians and other TPW health experts; TAHC; the Department of State Health Services; the USDA; and A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine.
CWD was first documented in Colorado captive mule deer in 1967. The disease is currently active in 19 states and two Canadian provinces.
Dr. Dee Ellis, state veterinarian and TAHC director said, “It will take a cooperative effort to ensure we keep this disease confined to Southern New Mexico and far West Texas. I am confident we can do that.”
CWD can be carried by an animal for years before symptoms occur: listlessness; head drop; weight loss; repetitive walking in set patterns; and lack of responsiveness.
For more information, visit www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cwd.