No chronic wasting disease in latest test results: Herds in Brainerd and Mountain Iron released from quarantine
ST. PAUL--Five white-tailed deer traced out of an infected herd in Merrifield tested negative for chronic wasting disease. Four of the deer were tested from a herd in Brainerd, and a single deer was tested from a herd in Mountain Iron. Those farm...
ST. PAUL-Five white-tailed deer traced out of an infected herd in Merrifield tested negative for chronic wasting disease.
Four of the deer were tested from a herd in Brainerd, and a single deer was tested from a herd in Mountain Iron. Those farms are released from quarantine because of the negative test results. Working with the United States Department of Agriculture and the herd owners, the Minnesota Board of Animal Health gathered samples from the suspect deer and sent them to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa, for official testing.
The board's investigation showed deer were moved to four other Minnesota farms during the five-year trace-back period from the Merrifield farm. The board shares information with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which responds to and manages CWD in wild deer. The board regulates farmed deer, and it works with the USDA as it investigates CWD cases.
"We never want to find CWD in Minnesota and these negatives are good news for deer and elk," said Dr. Paul Anderson, assistant director at the Board of Animal Health, in a news release. "While we still don't have a definitive answer to how CWD infected the original herd in Merrifield, these results limit the scope of our response and the potential spread of the disease."
The Merrifield herd includes 108 white-tail and 30 mule deer. While under quarantine, no animals can come or go from the farm, though Anderson said they could give permission to release a dead animal. He could not give the name of the Merrifield deer farm or its owner due to laws and regulations, but said the facility allows customers to pay to shoot and harvest deer. Breeding animals have also been sold from this farm, he said.
Anderson said the next steps for the Merrifield farm are being discussed right now.
"We are working through the details with the owner about the plan for eradicating the disease from the farm," Anderson said. He mentioned the owner was very cooperative in fixing the situation.
Eradication or slaughter of the deer and testing of the deer could be an option but would be done using indemnity funds through the USDA, Anderson said.
"I don't know if that kind of funding may or may not be available through the USDA this year, those questions have not yet been answered," Anderson said.
He mentioned another idea could include a cleanup plan to remove the prion, or abnormally shaped protein, from the facility.
Whether contaminated environments can ever be completely disinfected remains questionable, according to the Chronic Wasting Disease Alliance.
"It would take a long time and most of these plans, the facility would have to be with no positive results for at least five years before the quarantine could be released," Anderson said.
The benchmark the board uses in determining eradication of CWD is five years of negative test results, Anderson said.
Anderson said this CWD case like all others in the state are at high priority.
"All of this is important," Anderson said. "We are working very hard to work with the farmers that are involved. ... We are in the middle of this and it's very important to all of us," Anderson added.
CWD is a disease of deer and elk caused by an abnormally shaped protein, a prion, which can damage brain and nerve tissue. There is no danger to other animal species. The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed prions in saliva, feces, urine, and other fluids or tissues. The disease is always fatal and there are no known treatments or vaccines. CWD is not known to affect humans, through consuming infected meat is not advised.
Recap of current CWD investigations of farmed deer in Minnesota:
• Merrifield (Crow Wing County): Herd of origin for the current CWD investigation. Positive CWD test from two white-tailed deer. Remains under quarantine.
• Dassel (Meeker County): Positive CWD test from one white-tailed deer. Remains under quarantine.
• Freeport (Stearns County): No CWD tests conducted. Remains under quarantine.
• Brainerd (Crow Wing County): Negative CWD test from four white-tailed deer. Released from quarantine.
• Mountain Iron (St. Louis County): Negative CWD test from one white-tailed deer. Released from quarantine.