Two mule deer have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in a remote part of Texas near the New Mexico border, according to the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department. These are the first cases of CWD detected in Texas deer and were found in the Hueco Mountains of northern El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) implemented regionally-focused deer sample collection efforts after the disease was detected in the Hueco Mountains of New Mexico during the 2011-12 hunting season. With the assistance of cooperating landowners, TPWD, TAHC, and USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services biologists and veterinarians collected samples from 31 mule deer as part of a strategic CWD surveillance plan designed to determine the geographic extent of New Mexico’s findings.
“We know that elk in southern New Mexico are also infected with CWD,” said Dr. Dee Ellis, state veterinarian and executive director of the Texas Animal Health Commission. “It will take a cooperative effort between hunters, the cervid industry, and state/federal animal health and wildlife agencies to ensure we keep this disease confined to southern New Mexico and far West Texas. I am confident, however that will be able to do that, and thus protect the rest of the Texas cervid industry.”
CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. CWD among cervids is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication, but in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns, and a lack of responsiveness. CWD is not known to affect humans.
More information on CWD can be found on TPWD’s website, www.tpwd.state.tx.us/CWD or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, www.cwd-info.org.
More information about the TAHC CWD herd monitoring status program may be found at http://tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.