April 19, 2014

First batch of results in from chronic wasting disease sampling

The Missouri Department of Conservation has some results back from its screening for chronic wasting disease in Missouri deer.

The Conservation Department has received results on about 800 of roughly 1,700 samples taken in six north-central Missouri counties, tested for chronic wasting disease. (Photo courtesy, David Stonner, Missouri Department of Conservation.)

The Department collected around 1,700 tissue samples from deer killed in by hunters in six counties in northern Missouri near where 5 cases of chronic wasting disease were found in free-ranging deer earlier this year.

Department spokesman Joe Jerek says results are back from testing about 800 of those samples.

“So far only one adult buck has tested positive for the disease, and that buck was harvested in the same area of northwest Macon County where CWD was previously found.”

That brings to 6 the total of free-ranging deer found in Missouri to be infected with the disease. Jerek says, that all 6 have come from the same geographic area could be significant, but he says it is too early to draw conclusions.

“We have more than half the test results out there, so once we have all of the test results in the Department of Conservation will take a look at what they show and then we’ll be able to share more comprehensive information with the overall test results.”

Jerek says the final results should be back by the end of February.

The hunter who took the infected deer found in this first batch of results has been notified. Jerek says anyone who hunted in Adair, Chariton, Linn, Macon, Randolph and Sullivan Counties and participated in the sampling effort can see the results for the deer they harvested by going to mdc.mo.gov/node/19829 and entering his or her conservation number.  Results will take up to 6 weeks from when a deer was harvested to be available.

The disease is not considered a threat to human health, but Jerek says some people just like to know.

“Folks will just kind of want some affirmation that their test results came back, hopefully negative, which the overwhelming majority have so far.”

Jerek says even though the disease has not been shown to threaten human health, it is considered a serious threat to the state’s more than $1 billion a year deer hunting industry.

“Deer hunting in Missouri is a rich tradition, it’s a great way, an important way for a lot of people to put food on their table, and it’s a big economic driver.”

Hunters who take deer in those six counties can still participate in the sampling effort through the end of the archery season, January 15. They must take a harvested deer to a participating taxidermist in the region, or contact a local Department office.