Chronic Wasting Disease Detected for First Time in Wild Iowa Deer

By: Iowa Department of Natural Resources Email
By: Iowa Department of Natural Resources Email


The first case of chronic wasting disease in a wild Iowa deer has been confirmed.

The deer was reported as harvested in Allamakee County during the first shotgun season in early December. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources is currently working to obtain as much information as possible about the infected deer to implement its chronic wasting disease response plan.

“We have been testing for chronic wasting disease in Iowa’s deer herd for more than a decade and are optimistic, given the extensive data we have collected, that we have caught this early,” said Chuck Gipp, DNR director.

“The next step will be to focus our monitoring efforts in the area where the animal was harvested and work closely with local landowners and hunters to gather more information.” said Gipp.

Chronic wasting diseaseis a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion that attacks the brains of infected animals, causing them to lose weight, display abnormal behavior and lose bodily functions. Signs include excessive salivation, thirst and urination, loss of appetite, progressive weight loss, listlessness and drooping ears and head. The only reliable test for chronic wasting disease requires testing of lymph nodes or brain material.

There is currently no evidence that humans can contract chronic wasting disease by eating venison. However, the National Institute of Health and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that hunters do not eat the brain, eyeballs or spinal cord of deer and that hunters wear protective gloves while field dressing game and boning out meat for consumption.

Prior to the positive detection in Iowa, chronic wasting disease had been detected in every bordering state.

“With chronic wasting disease in all the states around us, we have understood the possibility of a positive detection in the wild deer herd for some time” said Gipp.

Since 2002, the DNR has collected more than 650 samples of deer from within a five-mile radius of where the deer is believed to have been harvested.

Media contact: Kevin Baskins, Iowa Department of Natural Resources, at 515-281-8395.


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