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Michigan CWD Monitoring Continues

September 2, 2005

While a newspaper article in today’s Detroit Free Press stated a few deer in Kent County appeared to exhibit neurological symptoms consistent with Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), a Department of Natural Resources’ test on one deer was negative for the fatal disease, according to wildlife officials.

Our department is doing targeted, active CWD surveillance on deer around the state, said William Moritz, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division. If any local law enforcement agencies come into contact or are alerted about deer that are suspect, we encourage them to dispatch the deer and turn the carcass over to the DNR for proper testing and analysis.

Moritz said a DNR biologist examined another deer from the Kent County area and concluded a vehicular accident most likely caused the displayed symptoms. However to ensure a correct diagnosis, the animal is currently being tested for CWD.

Since 2002, the DNR has conducted targeted CWD surveillance. Deer examined displayed neurological symptoms consistent with CWD and were collected by the DNR. DNR laboratory staff have physically examined and tested 190 suspect deer and eight suspect elk. Many of those deer had brain abscesses resulting from trauma to the head, probably from a vehicle. As of Sept. 1, the DNR has tested 17,286 deer and 332 elk that were submitted by hunters or killed by a vehicle. No animal in Michigan has tested positive for CWD.

Deer are often subject to injury and illness, and receiving reports of unhealthy deer is not unusual, said DNR Wildlife Veterinarian Steve Schmitt. “Evidence of trauma to deer is not easily observed. Deer that incur trauma associated with vehicular accidents may later become lethargic, emaciated, drool, and become unafraid of humans. Pneumonia does occur in wild deer and those deer often exhibit similar symptoms.

The DNR is continuing targeted surveillance of suspect deer. Public participation in this effort is valuable. Should a citizen observe a deer exhibiting neurological symptoms consistent with CWD, such as staggering, drooling or emaciation, they should contact the nearest DNR office. It should be noted that CWD symptoms are also characteristic of other diseases, and CWD can only be detected through an examination of an animal’s nervous system tissues.

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