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Four more Minnesota game farm deer test positive for chronic wasting disease

Four of the 14 white-tailed deer euthanized at a Meeker County farm have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported. Forum News Service file photo

DASSEL, Minn. - Four of the 14 white-tailed deer previously euthanized at an east-central Minnesota deer farm near Dassel have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health reported this week.

Testing confirmed the four as CWD positive last weekend.

The Meeker County herd about 50 miles west of Minneapolis was part of an investigation initiated after a CWD infected deer farm herd was found in Crow Wing County in northern Minnesota late last year.

Besides the four testing positive this past weekend, a two-year-old female deer at the Meeker County farm had tested positive for CWD in January.

The owner agreed to euthanize the animals and test them for CWD as part of a herd plan developed between the United States Department of Agriculture and the Board of Animal Health.

The herd plan also includes tracing animal movements into and out of this herd within the last five years. This tracing revealed two of the four CWD positive animals came from a nearby Wright County deer farm as fawns in 2014. The farm in Wright County, next door to Meeker County, has also been placed under quarantine as of this week.

"We quarantined the Wright County herd after discovering two of the four CWD positives originated there, but that herd is not considered infected. Herd movements are restricted, and the herd will be closely monitored until 2019," said Dr. Linda Glaser, assistant director of the Board of Animal Health.

The Meeker County game farm is empty and remains quarantined for all deer and elk species, and fences remain in place to keep wild deer off of the site. The next step is to clean and disinfect as much of the herd enclosures as possible. When that is complete, the property will remain quarantined for a period of five years.

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, although consuming infected meat is not advised.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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