It is my understanding that deer farmers in the state of Louisiana are under a quarantine. If this is so, why and for how long? And is there any danger to the public?
Officials, worried about cases of chronic wasting disease in deer from other states, suspended importation of deer into Louisiana on Nov. 19, said Veronica Mosgrove, spokeswoman for the state Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
“The suspension will remain in place until the export states can confirm that their farms are not at risk of CWD infection,” Mosgrove wrote in an email. “This disease is very infectious to deer and can live in the environment for many years, creating a great risk to the deer population in Louisiana. Only deer, elk and moose are susceptible to CWD.”
She said officials know of no cases of CWD in deer — either farmed or native — in Louisiana and that federal health officials have found no link between human illness and CWD, which like mad cow disease is transmitted by an infectious protein called a prion.
“Specific studies have begun that focus on identifying human prion disease in a population that is at increased risk for exposure to potentially CWD-infected deer or elk meat,” reads the website of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Because of the long time between exposure to CWD and the development of disease, many years of continued follow-up are required to be able to say what the risk, if any, of CWD is to humans.”
According to the CDC, more than 120 counties in 17 states — including two west Texas counties — had reported cases of CWD in free-ranging deer and related animals by last August.
The states most affected are Nebraska, with 24 disease-positive counties; Colorado, 20; Wyoming, 16; Kansas, 14; Wisconsin, 13; and Illinois, 10.
“Because the disease has a long incubation period, deer, elk, and moose infected with CWD may not produce any visible signs of the disease for a number of years after they become infected,” reads the website of the U.S Agriculture Department’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
“As the disease progresses, deer, elk, and moose with CWD show changes in behavior and appearance. These clinical signs may include progressive weight loss, stumbling, tremors, lack of coordination, depression, blank facial expressions, excessive salivation and drooling, loss of appetite, excessive thirst and urination, listlessness, teeth grinding, abnormal head posture, and drooping ears.
“Unfortunately, these signs are not specific to CWD and can occur with other diseases or malnutrition.”
El Paso County
Rio Blanco County
Jo Daviess County
Box Butte County
Red Willow County
Scotts Bluff County
Dona Ana County
Fall River County
El Paso County
San Juan County
Big Horn County
Hot Springs County
Thus by July 19, 2012, we have had 121 counties in 17 states with reported CWD in free-ranging cervids.