The Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) is confident in the containment strategy and response of state wildlife and animal health authorities in the wake of today's announcement that samples from two mule deer recently taken in far West Texas have been confirmed as positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD).
These are the first cases of CWD detected in Texas deer. Wildlife officials believe the event is currently isolated in a remote part of the state near the New Mexico border.
TWA is thankful for the pro-active and science-based actions taken by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD), the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC), private landowners, and the larger wildlife and animal health community in advance of this detection of CWD in Texas. Those pro-active efforts are now paying dividends. TWA strongly believes that all appropriate measures are being implemented and pursued to contain the disease in a remote part of the state near the New Mexico border.
TWA has trust and confidence in the state wildlife and animal health professionals, as well as in the experts in the field, who are effectively responding to this situation. TWA is confident that the rest of the Texas cervid industry is being protected from this detection of CWD in far West Texas.
TPWD and TAHC implemented regionally-focused deer sample collection efforts after the disease was detected in the Hueco Mountains of New Mexico during the 2011-12 hunting season. With the assistance of cooperating landowners, TPWD, TAHC, and USDA-APHIS-Wildlife Services biologists and veterinarians collected samples from 31 mule deer as part of a strategic CWD surveillance plan designed to determine the geographic extent of New Mexico's findings. Both infected deer were taken from the Hueco Mountains of northern El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
CWD is a member of the group of diseases called transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). Other diseases in this group include scrapie in sheep, bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease) in cattle, and Cruetzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans. CWD among cervids is a progressive, fatal disease that commonly results in altered behavior as a result of microscopic changes made to the brain of affected animals. 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.
Tissue samples were initially tested by the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in College Station, with confirmation by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa.
There is no vaccine or cure for CWD, but steps have been taken to minimize the risk of the disease spreading from beyond the area where it currently exists. For example, human-induced movements of wild or captive deer, elk, or other susceptible species will be restricted and mandatory hunter check stations will be established.
More information on CWD can be found on TPWD's website,http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/cwd or at the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance website,http://www.cwd-info.org.
More information about the TAHC CWD herd monitoring status program may be found at http://tahc.state.tx.us/animal_health/cwd/cwd.html.