UPDATE ON CHRONIC WASTING DISEASE
November 10, 2002
In late October in Winnebago County, located in north central
Illinois, just northeast of the town of Roscoe, Illinois,
a doe was shot by a farmer because it appeared to display
symptoms indicative of Chronic Wasting Disease. Testing proved
positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), confirming the
Is there reason to panic? At this point, I would say no!
First we need to assess the deer’s origination. Did
this deer cross into Illinois from Wisconsin? Did this deer
escape, or was it released from a deer farm? Stranger things
have occurred with mink and other wildlife farms across the
United States. Subsequently, further investigation is needed
to determine as best as possible from where this deer originated,
before we jump to the conclusion that CWD is infecting the
deer of Illinois.
To reiterate some basic precautions:
- Wear gloves when field dressing your deer.
- Assess the inside of your deer for fat, as CWD decreases
the ability of the deer to digest its food. It would not
be uncommon to see decreased, or nonexistent fat in a deer.
That would be a red flag.
- De-bone the meat from your deer. Do not cut into the bones.
There are testing kits available.
The Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources has banned the use
of mineral or salt blocks to feed deer.
- Do not feed deer crack corn or any other grain as the
deer will herd together, increasing the changes of transmission
- Birdfeeders close to the house are allowable.
- Below is a list of regional office phone numbers for the
Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources. If you suspect your
deer, or perhaps a deer you have seen in the field, of being
infected with CWD, please call the appropriate number:
Springfield wildlife office: (217) 782-6384
Region 1 – Sterling, IL: (815) 625-2968
Region 2 – Barlett, IL: (815) 675-2385
Region 3 – Champaign, IL: (217) 278-5773
Region 4 – Alton, IL: (618) 462-1181
Region 5 – Benton, IL: (618) 435-8138
Should you have any questions, please contact your regional
phone number. Updates will be forthcoming.
Chronic wasting disease is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy
of deer and elk. It was first recognized as a wasting type
syndrome in Mule deer 1967, and identified in Colorado, Southeastern
Wyoming, Nebraska. The herds in those areas have been quarantined.
Animals have been slaughtered, tested, and their carcasses
are usually incinerated.
The first farmed herd in the United States testing positive
for Chronic Wasting Disease was detected in South Dakota in
1997. Since that time, there have been 16 additional positive
herds identified in South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma
Species that have been affected with Chronic Wasting Disease
(CWD) include the Rocky Mountain Elk, Mule deer, White-tailed
deer and Black-tailed deer.
Chronic Wasting Disease is well-documented in the State of
Wisconsin. This has caused great concern, given the financial
impact it will have on the hunting industry and businesses
in the area associated with hunting.
Causative agent: The agent that causes Chronic Wasting Disease
is a spongiform encephalopathy. Infecting agent is a Prion,
an abnormal form of a normal protein known as a cellular Prion
protein, which is commonly found in the central nervous system.
This infects the animal by converting some of the brain cells
to literally spongy-type cells, thus inhibiting the ability
to digest appropriately. The infected animal basically wastes
away, unable to digest food. This agent is much smaller than
a viral particle. It is also resistant to heat and normal
Most Chornic Wasting Disease cases occur in adult animals.
The disease is progressive and is always fatal. There is some
concern that there is potential for transmission to humans
via ingestion of meat from infected animals. At this time,
there is not enough data available on the subject to make
this determination. We know that Mad Cow Disease can be transmitted
to humans. Chornic Wasting Disease is similar to Mad Cow Disease;
however, there has been NO documented evidence to date that
it can be transmitted to humans by ingestion of infected meat.
Transmission: It is believed that the transmission of Chronic
Wasting Disease occurs laterally, from animal to animal, possibly
through the saliva, although maternal transmission could occur.
For additional information write to Dr. Miller in Ft. Collins,
Colorado at firstname.lastname@example.org or write to Dr. Tom Thorne
with Wyoming Game and Fish Dept. His e-mail address is email@example.com.
For information on CWD and Wisconsin deer, go to www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/wildlife/whealth/issues/cwd/.
This is an excellent website for reference maps on Chronic
Wasting Disease and what they are doing about this unfortunate