Des Moines, IA – RadioIowa – Chronic Wasting Disease, for the first time, has been detected in a wild deer in Iowa. The animal was shot by a hunter in northeast Iowa’s Allamakee County back in early December, but Iowa Department of Natural Resources spokesman Kevin Baskins says his agency just recently learned the deer tested positive for CWD.
CWD is a neurological disease affecting primarily deer and elk. It’s fatal for the animals, but there is currently no evidence that humans can contract CWD by eating venison. Baskins notes they’ve only found one deer with the disease and it was shot along the Mississippi River. Across the river, in Wisconsin, is an area where CWD has been common.
The disease is caused by an abnormal protein, called a prion (PREE-on), that attacks the brains of infected animals. Baskins says the challenge in controlling the spread of CWD surrounds the fact that prions can get in the soil and remain there for a long time.
The DNR has been testing for CWD in Iowa’s deer herd for more than a decade. This is the first positive CWD detection in a wild deer in Iowa. It’s previously been detected in every state bordering Iowa.