Five deer at a breeding facility in Pottawattamie County have tested positive for chronic wasting disease (CWD) placing that operation under quarantine.
There is no evidence that CWD can spread to humans, pets or domestic livestock such as pork, beef, dairy, poultry, sheep or goats.
Three of the five deer in Pottawattamie County along with a single white-tail deer at a hunting preserve in Davis County – Iowa’s first confirmed positive CWD sample – have been traced back to a breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County.
In addition, 14 deer from the breeding facility in Cerro Gordo County have been sampled for CWD with one yielding a positive result for CWD. The Cerro Gordo facility is also currently under quarantine meaning live animals are not allowed to come or go from the operation.
After the first positive sample of the deer in Davis County was confirmed in July, both the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship (IDALS) have been working to trace back deer that have moved to and from the Cerro Gordo County facility.
Once the initial positive detection of CWD was found in Davis County, the DNR worked with several other states that had clients of the facility to determine which deer was the carrier of the disease. Through DNA testing, it was determined that the affected deer had originated from the Cerro Gordo County facility.
The DNR has regulatory authority on hunting preserves while IDALS regulates captive breeding herds.
“It’s important for us to gather as much information as possible as to where these deer have come from and gone to if we are going to be successful in containing the spread of CWD. Our primary concern is to keep CWD from spreading to the wild herd,” said Bruce Trautman, deputy director of the DNR.
The 330-acre Davis County facility is currently surrounded by an eight-foot high fence and routine inspections are being conducted by the DNR to ensure the integrity of the fencing system so that no deer are coming or going from the area.
The DNR will increase testing of wild deer in the area by working with hunters and landowners to collect samples from hunter harvested deer beginning this fall. A goal of 300 samples within a five-mile radius of the Davis County facility has been established.
Iowa has tested 42,557 wild deer and over 4,000 captive deer and elk as part of the surveillance program since 2002 when CWD was found in Wisconsin.
CWD is a neurological disease that only affects deer, elk and moose. It is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion, which affects 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 prions can attach to soil and spread the disease among deer. Chronic wasting disease was first identified in captive mule deer at a research facility in Colorado in 1967. Prior to the positive detection in Iowa, CWD had been detected in every bordering state.