Nature

Medina County Elk Tests Positive For Chronic Wasting Disease

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Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC) officials have confirmed Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in an elk located in South-Central Texas. The elk was harvested on a high fenced premises with common management as a property where white-tailed deer were previously confirmed to have CWD.

Second Known Elk in Texas to Test Positive for CWD

Chronic Wasting Disease

Photo: Flickr/Ronald Woan

CWD has been found in free-ranging elk across the United States, including New Mexico and Colorado. This is the second known elk in Texas to test positive for CWD. The first CWD positive elk in Texas was a free-ranging elk harvested in Dallam County on December 6, 2016.

CWD was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. The first case of CWD in Texas was discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer in an isolated area of far West Texas. The disease has since been detected in a total of 15 free-ranging mule deer, one free-ranging elk (this elk located on a high-fenced property), one free-ranging white-tailed deer, and in five white-tailed deer breeding operations located in Medina/Uvalde and Lavaca counties. For a full list of CWD positives in Texas, visit the Texas Parks and Wildlife website  

A Progressive, Fatal Disease

chronic wasting disease

Photo: Flickr/USFWSmidwest

According to the Texas Wildlife Association, CWD is a progressive, fatal disease of cervids 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, however, recent studies suggest there may be a risk to non-human primates that consume CWD infected meat, therefore, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.

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