Deer with Chronic Wasting Disease Found in Iowa

DES MOINES — State officials have verified the first case of chronic wasting disease in the state in a white-tail deer on a hunting preserve in southern Iowa.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources said Friday the deer in Davis County was verified with the disease this week. Officials said it is an isolated case.

There is no evidence that the disease can spread to humans, pets or domestic livestock such as cows, pigs, sheep or goats.

It is a neurological disease that only affects deer, elk and moose. It is caused by an abnormal protein called a prion that 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 Davis County facility where the animal was held is quarantined. It is surrounded by an eight-foot fence.

The facility has been inspected by the DNR and the Iowa Department of Agriculture to ensure that any remaining deer are contained.

“We have a CWD surveillance program in place to test deer, elk and moose at the facilities that raise farm deer and we have worked closely with DNR to plan for a possible finding of the disease,” said Iowa State Veterinarian David Schmitt.

The state has tested more than 42,000 wild deer and more than 4,000 captive deer and elk as part of the surveillance program since 2002, when the disease was found in Wisconsin.

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.

The prions that cause the disease 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.