White-tailed deer

The Minnesota Board of Animal Health confirmed Friday chronic wasting disease on a Meeker County farm near Dassel.

Positive CWD samples came from a 2-year-old female white-tailed deer that died on the farm. In accordance with state law, tissue samples were collected from the carcass and submitted for CWD testing. Farmed deer, age 12 months or older, are required to be tested for CWD if they die or are slaughtered.

Samples are tested at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and forwarded to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, which officially confirms CWD.

The Board of Animal Health shares information with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and works with the USDA as it investigates CWD cases in farmed deer. The DNR responds to and manages CWD in wild deer, while the Board of Animal Health regulates farmed deer.

The board’s records show this positive deer was born on the CWD positive Crow Wing County farm and moved to the Meeker County farm in December 2014.

As of Dec. 30, 2016, there are three confirmed CWD positive farmed deer in Minnesota. Two are associated with the previously reported case in Crow Wing County. The third, and most recent case in Meeker County, was part of a herd of 14 white-tailed deer, which remain quarantined on the farm.

“This is why it’s important for the board to maintain accurate animal identification and herd inventories,” said Dr. Paul Anderson, assistant director at the Board of Animal Health. “We were able to look back at five years of recorded deer movements out of the infected Crow Wing County herd, locate herds that received deer from it, and investigate those farms for a CWD infection. This tracing led to the discovery in Meeker County.”

Update on Crow Wing County case: The original quarantine remains in place on the Crow Wing County herd after two female deer tested positive for CWD. The board is reviewing animal movement records into and out of the herd during the past five years.

Movement records out of the herd show deer were moved to four other Minnesota farms during the five-year trace-back period. One of those herds is the Dassel farm in Meeker County. All associated herds remain under movement restrictions.

Movement records into the herd show one of the two CWD infected deer was moved into the herd in 2014 from a deer farm that is no longer in business. The other positive deer was born on the farm.

CWD is a disease of deer and elk caused by an abnormally shaped protein, a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. There is no danger to other animal species. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine, and other fluids or tissues. The disease is always fatal and there are no known treatments or vaccines. CWD is not known to affect humans, though consuming infected meat is not advised.