13 chronic wasting disease cases confirmed at Medina County facility

Cases discovered at quarantined captive white-tailed deer breeding facility

MEDINA COUNTY, Texas - More cases of chronic wasting disease were confirmed at a Medina County captive white-tailed deer breeding facility Wednesday, officials said.

The Texas Animal Health Commission and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department discovered the 13 cases while conducting an epidemiological investigation on the quarantined facility, officials said.

This comes after a 3 1/2-year-old captive white-tailed doe tested positive for CWD in April. The initial positive doe was tested for the disease because of increased surveillance testing required by the facility's Texas Animal Health Commission herd plan.

Officials said the plan was developed to assess the risk of CWD in the facility for its association with the first Texas CWD-positive herd. U.S. Department of Agriculture diagnostic sampling funds were utilized to conduct the testing.

Of the 33 samples submitted to National Veterinary Services Laboratory for testing, officials said 13 of the samples revealed the presence of CWD prions, or proteinaceous infectious particles.

The Health Commission and the Parks and Wildlife Department will be working closely with the facility owner to develop future testing strategies to assess the prevalence of CWD within the facility, officials said.

A total of 25 white-tailed deer in the state, that all originated from captive white-tailed deer breeding facilities, have been confirmed to have the disease, including the initial CWD-positive deer detected in June 2015.

"The disease was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado," Parks and Wildlife said. "CWD has also been documented in captive and/or free-ranging deer in 24 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In Texas, the disease was first discovered in 2012 in free-ranging mule deer along a remote area of the Hueco Mountains near the Texas-New Mexico border. Earlier this year, a free-ranging mule deer buck harvested in Hartley County was confirmed CWD-positive."

Officials said CWD among cervids is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes that occur in the brains of affected animals.

An animal may carry the disease for years without outward indication, but officials said in the latter stages, signs may include listlessness, lowering of the head, weight loss, repetitive walking in set patterns and a lack of responsiveness.

There currently is no evidence the disease poses a risk to humans or noncervids, according to Parks and Wildlife. As a precaution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization recommend not to consume meat from infected animals.

For more information, tap or click to visit Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's CWD web pages, the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website, or the Texas Animal Health Commission website for information about the Health Commission's CWD program.

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