CWD Discovered in Captive Deer Breeding Facility
The first case of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer in Texas has been detected in a Medina County captive deer breeding facility. Tissue samples from the facility were submitted in June as part of routine testing protocols and Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory (TVMDL) in College Station detected a positive test on a sample, which was then confirmed on June 30 by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
In a July 1 news release from Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), Executive Director Carter Smith stated, "This is a terribly unfortunate development that we are committed to addressing as proactively, comprehensively, and expeditiously as possible. The health of our state’s wild and captive deer herds, as well as affiliated hunting, wildlife, and rural based economies, are vitally important to Texas hunters, communities, and landowners. As such, our primary objectives are to determine the source of the disease and to identify other deer breeding facilities and release sites that may have received deer from affected facilities.”
CWD is an unconventional disease in that it is neither virus nor bacteria, but is highly suspected to be caused by a prion, which is an abnormal infectious protein, that typically affects the central nervous system of infected animals, and is a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) variant. Relatives of CWD include Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans, scrapie in sheep and goats, and mad cow disease (BSE) in cattle.
The epidemiology of CWD is not well understood, but it is known to be infectious and transmissible on an intra-species basis within susceptible cervids, and though there is no evidence that CWD can be transmitted to humans, some states that have dealt with problems associated with the effects of CWD in recent years have been impacted significantly from a financial, personnel, resource management, and public perception standpoint, making CWD recognized as one of the most costly and challenging wildlife diseases in this country.
According to Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) President, Greg Simons, “Even though many people felt like this day was likely coming, the reality of what’s at hand is still very sobering. TWA has full confidence in Texas Parks and Wildlife Department and Texas Animal Health Commission. I’m certain that the regulatory safeguards that they put in place will be in the best interest of our state’s important and valuable wildlife resources.” Simons also added, “Whitetails are this country’s most economically important wildlife species, and with well over 100,000 pen-raised deer in Texas deer breeding facilities, it is imperative that we have sufficient safety-nets in place to protect the broad value of deer and deer hunting.”
TPWD state veterinarian, Dr. Bob Dittmar, is currently scheduled to be on hand at the TWA Convention next week in San Antonio at the J.W. Marriott to provide an update on CWD concerns in Texas. Pursuant to our mission, TWA will continue to apprise our members on these important matters, as we learn the potential impacts on our members and other stakeholders across Texas. TWA has been and will remain committed to protecting the economic, social, and biologic value and integrity of Texas’ wildlife populations and wildlife habitat. TWA offers its full support of TPWD and TAHC in their efforts to investigate this finding and implement a CWD containment plan.
More information about the TAHC CWD program can be found at http://tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.
The TPWD News Release can be found at https://tpwd.texas.gov/newsmedia/releases/?req=20150701a.
More information on the TWA Convention can be found at http://www.texas-wildlife.org/program-areas/wildlife-2015.