A troubling disease has been discovered in a deer that was among a herd on a southeastern Minnesota farm, state regulators said Wednesday.
Chronic wasting disease (CWD) was detected in a three-year-old whitetail buck during routine testing of the farm in Winona County, according to the Minnesota Board of Animal Health, which confirmed the results with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The board has quarantined the herd and begun its investigation into its finding of the fatal disease, the agency said.
CWD is a disease of the deer and elk family caused by an abnormally shaped protein that can damage brain and nerve tissue.
The disease is most likely transmitted when infected deer and elk shed the protein in saliva, feces, urine and other fluids or tissues.
The 10 years of records the board has on this particular herd shows “it has a good history of CWD surveillance,” the agency said in a statement announcing the discovery. The board did not disclose who operates the farm.
“This herd is a good example of why dedicated, routine, CWD surveillance is important, and producers should never become complacent with the Board’s testing requirements,” said Dr. Linda Glaser, assistant director with the Board of Animal Health, in a statement.
“Those testing and movement records will significantly aid in our CWD investigation of this herd.”
The next step for the board is to track movements of deer into and out of the herd within the past five years. If this reveals movements of deer to or from other herds within Minnesota, those herds will also become part of the investigation.
An initial review shows the most recent movement occurred in April 2016 when three deer were transported out of the herd, which now stands at seven adult whitetail deer.
The board has responsibility for regulating deer and elk that are on farms in the state, while the DNR oversees deer in the wild.
CWD is not known to naturally occur in other animals, and there are no known treatments or vaccines.
Human consumption of infected meat is not advised.