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Minnesota deer farm shows no additional CWD-infected animals

Forum News Service file photo

MERRIFIELD, Minn. — A deer farm in Crow Wing County in north-central Minnesota continues on quarantine for chronic wasting disease, while no further infected cases were found in the most recent batch of tests.

The latest results released by the veterinary diagnostic laboratory did not detect CWD in deer tissue samples, according to a news release from the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. The board quarantined the herd in December 2016 when two white-tailed deer tested positive for CWD. When the herd was quarantined, it consisted of 110 white-tailed deer and 33 mule deer. Samples have been taken from 51 white-tailed deer and five mule deer in the herd to date in 2017; all have been "not detected."

Despite the continued "CWD not detected" results, the herd remains quarantined and the owner is restricted from moving animals. The board will report any additional testing, according to the release. The owner continues to uphold a herd plan agreement with the board and the United States Department of Agriculture, and declined an offer of indemnity to depopulate the entire herd. Instead, the herd will remain under quarantine until 2021 when it expires, the board stated in the release.

"Deer remain on this farm, and as long as we continue receiving 'CWD not detected' results, we'll stick to the herd plan we have with the owner," said Assistant Director Dr. Linda Glaser. "We hope to keep this trend going, and obviously 2021 is a long time from now, so the chance of a positive test result remains on our radar. If CWD is detected again in this herd, we will re-examine the herd plan with the owner."

The Crow Wing County farm owner has made infrastructure improvements since the initial CWD detection in 2016, the release stated. The owner installed additional exclusionary fencing to prevent contact between the farmed deer and wild deer. This practice is widely recognized to reduce the risk of disease spread.

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. Consuming infected meat is not advised.

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