Iowa DNR monitors Chronic Wasting Disease outbreaks in wild deer


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Iowa Department of Natural Resources will only test the lymph nodes of mature deer for evidence of Chronic Wasting Disease. (Mississippi State Extension)
Jenna Ladd | November 25, 2016

Iowa Department of Natural Resources wildlife staff will begin collecting tissue samples of wild deer next month following outbreaks of Chronic Wasting Disease in the state.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) is a contagious neurological disease that can affect deer, elk and moose. The degenerative condition is characterized by emaciation, erratic behavior, loss of bodily function and death. Wildlife staff will collect lymph node tissue samples from harvested deer throughout Iowa’s shotgun deer seasons. DNR will focus its efforts in Allamakee, Pottawattamie and Cerro Gordo counties as well as south-central Iowa near Missouri and northern parts of the state near Wisconsin and Illinois. Wild deer have tested positive for CWD in all of these areas. The group will take a total of 4,500 samples, most of which will be collected in the first part of December when upwards of 120,000 hunters take to the outdoors.

The potential human health risks associated with CWD are still being evaluated. From 1997-1998, three young adults contracted Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, a disease similar to CWD, after consuming venison. However, a study of the three cases’ medical records and pathological tests by the Atlanta, Georgia Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that there was no causal link. Health and wildlife officials encourage humans not to eat meat from animals that are known to be infected. Hunters are also encouraged to take precautions when harvesting deer from areas with identified outbreaks.

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