The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection reported this week that 11 additional animals from a deer farm in Washington County tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD).

Fawn whitetail deer. Image/Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.
Fawn whitetail deer. Image/Lynn Betts, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The farm was quarantined in March after a buck there tested positive. Since that time, the National Veterinary Services Laboratory completed CWD testing for 44 white-tailed deer and 16 elk.

The deer farm owner will receive a state indemnity payment after verification of completing cleaning and disinfecting requirements. State law provides for the authority for an indemnity payment to a livestock owner for animals condemned due to a contagious or infectious disease.

On November 15, a team comprised of DATCP and U.S. Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service staff coordinated the humane depopulation of the farm’s remaining whitetail deer and elk.

CWD was first recognized in 1967 in captive mule deer in Colorado. It is a progressive, fatal disease of cervids (deer, elk, and moose) caused by an infectious protein called a prion that affects the animal’s brain.

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.

Testing for CWD can only be performed after the animal’s death.